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March 3, 2011
Senator Akaka will not seek re-election
At age 86, it's not entirely unexpected that Senator Daniel Akaka would decline to stand for re-election in 2012. There was open discussion among both Democrats and Republicans about his fitness to serve. This despite his huge personal popularity with both parties. He is one of the last of the old guard - unfailingly polite, courtly, and trusted by friend and foe alike.
After 20 years in the senate and another 6 terms in the House, Akaka is calling it a career. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser:
"After months of thinking about my political future, I am announcing today that I have decided not to run for re-election in 2012," Akaka said in a statement. "As many of you can imagine, it was a very difficult decision for me. However, I feel that the end of this Congress is the right time for me to step aside. It has been a great honor and privilege to serve the people of Hawaii. In 2006, the people of Hawaii gave me an opportunity to continue my service in the United States Senate and I fully intend to serve the last two years of my term in office."
Akaka informed his staff and U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, the state's top Democrat, of his decision this evening in Washington.
President Barack Obama issued a statement offering his best wishes to Akaka and his wife, Millie.
"Danny Akaka answered the call to serve right after high school by joining the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. When he returned to Honolulu, he continued to serve the people of Hawaii as an educator before embarking on more than three decades of distinguished service in both houses of Congress," Obama said.
He was a liberal, but of a different mold than the hyperpartisan, sneering bunch that inhabits the senate today.
Is Hawaii ripe for a GOP pick-up? Republicans have become more competitive in state-wide races in recent elections, electing Linda Lingle governor in 2002 and again in 2006. But the registration edge goes to the Dems - 53-47 - which makes it an uphill battle for even the most seasoned GOP campaigner.