Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) says he plans on running for re-election in 2012, but his senior colleague, Daniel Inouye (D), is expressing concern about Akaka's commitment -- and his chances.
In a recent interview, Inouye offered an unusually candid assessment of Akaka's glacial fundraising pace and warned that there won't be much Inouye could do to help.
"In the last election, 2006, when Danny Akaka ran, I was able to help him in six figures. This time I doubt that," said Inouye last Thursday on PBS Hawaii's "Insights".
"If he should decide to run, I will support him, but now circumstances have changed. In the last election I was able to concentrate fully on Sen. Akaka," Inouye said. "But now I am president pro tem, I'm chairman of the Appropriations Committee and I'm a member of the leadership council, and as such they expect me as one of the leaders of the Senate to help all Democrats, not just one. And I've been doing that even during my own re-election time."
Inouye provided a big boost to Akaka's fundraising in 2006 as he fended off a primary challenge from former Rep. Ed Case. This time, Akaka has a little over $66,000 in his campaign account, according to his most recent fundraising report. And he's not known for his speedy fundraising ability. Inouye said Akaka would need to raise $3 million to be competitive this cycle.
"I've also noted that he has not had fundraisers, and according to the disclosure laws, whatever he has is less than a hundred thousand," Inouye said.
Former Gov. Linda Lingle (R) -- who would be the strongest potential GOP challenger to Akaka -- said in November she would take six months before deciding whether she will run.
If Akaka does not run, Inouye mentioned several Democrats as possibilities for the race, including former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Reps. Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa, and Lieutenant Gov. Brian Schatz.