D.C. Dreaming For Vagabond Pols

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - October 07, 2009
| Del.icio.us

I have a buddy in the real estate business who calls me each fall to ask if I know any young faculty in the market for a house. Usually, I don’t. Young faculty don’t talk to geezers like me about their housing needs. But occasionally I tell my friend about some untenured youngster who’s unhoused as well.

To date, my referrals have resulted in zero sales. Yet, given the sorry state of Hawaii’s real estate market, my friend continues to call. He sounds desperate. “Give me a name,” he says, “any name.”

With professors, I think my Realtor friend fishes in the wrong pond. Newly hired professors rent, often in subsidized housing units built by the University of Hawaii. Then, with tenure and/or the realization that the call will not forthcoming from Harvard or Cal or - gee, I don’t know, Fresno State maybe (we professors are a weird bunch with weird tastes, as idiosyncratic as the law allows) - they venture into the bottom end of the housing market.


No, the next time my Realtor friend calls, I’m going to give him a list of politicians - specifically, a list of politicians with Potomac fever. More specifically, a list of those with their eyes fixed on a seat in the United States House of Representatives.

They are a nomadic people. I would not be surprised if, along with a stack of campaign signs stored in their garage (assuming they own one), there are tents - big tents the size Moammar Khadafi might use in his endless pilgrimage across the length and breadth of Libya.

No, to this political class neither domicile nor community nor neighbors mean anything. The only constant is their ambition: a seat among the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The good reader thinks, “Methinks the columnizing weird professor overstates - again.”

Oh, yeah?

Consider the case of Hizzoner Mufi Hannemann, the estimable mayor of the City and County of Honolulu. As a young man, he spent a year in Washington as a Presidential Scholar. There, amidst the storehouse of self-importance that is the nation’s capital, young man Hannemann caught the virus. So, still wet behind the ears, he returned to Honolulu and in 1986 sought the open 1st Congressional District seat. He lost and moved to the Big Island. There, in 1992, he sought the open 2nd Congressional District seat. He lost and moved to Aiea, where he won a Council seat and, eventually, the mayoral-ty.

Or the case of Matt Matsunaga. The son of first Rep., later Sen. Sparky Matsunaga, drank the Potomac waters as a child. He never got over it. Like Hannemann, his first foray into politics was in 1992 as a candidate for the 1st Congressional District seat. He lost. In 2003, Matsunaga ran in a special election for the 2nd District seat left vacant by the death of U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink. He lost. In 2006, Matsunaga took another shot at the 2nd District seat vacated by the Senate ambitions of incumbent Ed Case. Matsunaga lost.

In 2010, the congressional nomads trek across the political horizon once again. Case, formerly of the 2nd District but failed in his run for the Senate in 2006, has returned to run for the 1st District seat held by the gubernatorial-campaign-bound U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie.

And last week, state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, long identified with her Waianae Coast state Senate district from which she ran - and almost won - the 2nd District seat in 2006, announced her candidacy in the 1st.

Confused? You should be, dear reader.

Let me add to your confusion. Legally, a congressperson does-n’t need to live in the district he or she represents. Second District Rep. Mazie Hirono, for example, doesn’t live in hers.

But we kinda, sorta, maybe like it when the congressperson - or would-be congressperson - does. Right? Particularly when they say things like, “I understand the needs of East Honolulu.” How, if you’re from Waianae? Or “My roots go deep in the 1st District.”

“Geeez. Four years ago da buggah said his roots wen deep in da 2nd District.”

No, this year when my Realtor buddy calls, I’m going to give him a list of congressional candidates. But I’ll warn him that - like the professor waiting for tenure before he considers buying - the congressman awaits election night.

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