06/08/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

In Hawaii, DCCC Targets a Woman Candidate in Favor of a White Male

File this one under the latest on a long list of examples of the Democratic Party no longer standing up for, nor representing, women and women's issues.

In Hawaii's special-election scheduled for May 22, the DCCC is actively trying to defeat a Democratic woman state senator running for an open congressional seat -- State Senator Colleen Hanabusa.

It's a fact that only 16.8% of our congressional seats are held by women -- an abysmal figure to begin with. And there is a significant chance that this number will decline further in November 2010 since many incumbent women running are Democrats. So the DCCC trying to take out a woman candidate seems, well, odd.

It gets worse -- not only is Senator Hanabusa a Democrat and a woman -- she is also the first woman to preside over the State Senate of Hawaii;


The first Asian American woman to preside over a state legislative chamber in the entire United States!

But, the DCCC wants to take her down and get behind Rep. Ed Case -- you guessed it, a white male (we apparently don't have enough of those in Congress). Politico reports:

...two sources said the DCCC is providing under-the-radar organizational support to former Rep. Ed Case against Democratic state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, including assistance from DCCC Western Regional Political Director Adam Sullivan.

Those efforts have coincided with the circulation of opposition research within Washington advancing the notion that Hanabusa is a longtime insider who received significant legislative pay raises at a time when the state has suffered through economic hard times...

That's nice. Opposition research by the DCCC on the first Asian American woman to preside over a state legislative body. So while the Democratic leadership is busy hurling slurs of "racist" at the Tea Party, how about taking stock of our own party. Although the Democratic Party has prided itself as the party of equality, is racial equality reserved only for our male candidates?

Of course, Asian American Democrats, are also up in arms. Asian American Action Fund executive director Gautam Dutta was quoted as saying:

"The DCCC should focus the party on uniting Democrats and keeping this seat blue rather than dividing us and helping us defeat ourselves. It is unseemly for party officials to step into a special election with more than one Democrat, particularly in a district where 58 percent of the population is Asian Pacific American."

Fortunately for State Senator Hanabusa, she is tremendously popular and has the support not only of Hawaii's two U.S. Senators, Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, but also Hawaii's two most powerful unions. But the DCCC, undeterred, is actively working to undermine that support. According to a top Democratic official: "We have to figure out how we convince them that it's not in our interest to take a loss."

And here's a doozy: the DSCC is even reaching out to Emily's List asking that organization to back away from Senator Hanabusa. Now, if you had asked me a year ago, I would have said that Emily's List would be unflappable in backing Democratic, pro-choice women: of course, the DCCC is wasting their time. But, I am concerned. Recently, Ellen Malcolm publicly denounced Senator Blanche Lincoln here at HuffPost, and it seems that The New Agenda is one of the few women's organizations to stand with Blanche Lincoln.

We cannot afford this Ladies. Women's representation is paltry, and we are at risk for it moving backwards in 2010. My sincere hope is that Emily's List, and other women's organizations, will tell the DCCC to back off. What our party is doing is simply wrong!

I recently attended at an event where Ambassador Melanne Verveer declared the 21st century to the century of gender equality. Well, we had better get cracking. That means that women, and like-minded men, need to hold party leaders accountable. Gender parity needs to be a priority and we can hardly afford to target a prominent woman leader. With the elections of 2010 and 2012 around the corner, let's recall the words on Susan B. Anthony: "No self-respecting woman should wish or work for a party that ignores her."