Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, is racking up some early labor endorsements, a sign of both her initial momentum, and the extent to which she is working to build a coalition to address questions about the strength of her candidacy.
The latest: a nod from the state's largest public-sector labor union, on the heels of an endorsement from the state AFL-CIO.
One question mark surrounding Hirono is electability in a Senate race against former Gov. Linda Lingle, who defeated her in the 2002 governor's race. (Hirono narrowly defeated former Rep. Ed Case in the primary that year.) Having President Obama -- who is very popular in the state -- on the ticket makes 2012 a very different electorate from 2002 and Lingle hasn't even said she's running yet. But Case, who'll be no pushover in the primary, only fueled doubt about Hirono when he released a poll showing him defeating Lingle, but Hirono losing to her.
Hirono has better labor ties than Case, and is flexing that muscle early. Case told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser the HGEA and the state AFL-CIO did not meet with him before issuing endorsements. While some Democrats have expressed doubt about Hirono's chances, she's racked up some early support from prominent local and national groups.
The presence of the state's political behemoths, Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye at a recent Hirono fundraiser in Washington was yet another reminder of which candidate the Democratic establishment favors, if not officially.