by Andrew Walden
Ed Case bases his entire campaign appeal on his self-estimated experience and ability. Filing his campaign petition, Ed Case March 10 said “This election is about going back to Washington to help the people of Hawai‘i with my seniority and experience….”
But what does the record from Case’s four-years-and-a-month in Congress really say about the value of his seniority or his experience?
The non-partisan research group, www.Congress.org, measures 15 criteria to rank "demonstrated power and the ability to be effective in Congress.” By the end of his time in Congress, Case’s ranking for legislative activity was zero. Case’s “influence” was –2, two notches below zero.
This is not the first time Case has run on claims of superior ability and intellect. In his ill-fated 2006 primary campaign against Senator Dan Akaka, Case campaign commercials focused on the an evaluation of Akaka by Time Magazine. The news weekly, owned in part by Ed Case’s cousin, Steve Case, called Akaka one of the nation’s “Five Worst Senators” and described him as “A master of the minor resolution in a bill that dies in committee”.
But by some measures, Case’s record in Congress was far worse than Akaka’s. As progressive activists on DemocraticUnderground.com pointed out in September, 2006:
“Ed Case has 15 of his 16 sponsored legislative items sitting in committee and they have been there for some time. Worse, he submitted only 1 piece of Legislation in 2006. (Source: Library of Congress-THOMAS)”
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, August 29, 2006 came to the same conclusion:
Two members of Congress ranked as some of the least effective -- Rep. Ed Case and Sen. Dan Akaka -- are battling over who has the worse rating on a national political Web site.
The nonpartisan Web site is owned by Capitol Advantage, which publishes congressional directories and helps link public advocacy group to members of Congress.
The Web service also rates the 435 members of the House and 100 senators on a scale for their power and influence in Washington.
Akaka is ranked 71 out of 100, and Case is ranked 410 out of 435, according to Congress.org.
But three years later, Case is again making effectiveness, experience, and seniority the cornerstones of his campaign. After a December 19, 2009 interview with case, The Hill explained:
Ed Case boiled his message down to: “Experience works.”
Abercrombie is “leaving 19 years of seniority in the House,” Case said. “Do you want somebody filling out his term who has seniority, who has experience, who has relationships, who knows issues, who knows Washington? Or do you want somebody that’s going to go in that has no clue, really?
“I have the experience and seniority in Washington that [Hanabusa] doesn’t.”
But how does case stack up against the person who eked out a victory against Hanabusa in the Democrats’ 2006 primary race or the Second Congressional District—Mazie Hirono?
Hirono was so ineffectual that in 2002 she lost the Democrats’ grip on the governor’s office after 40 years of uninterrupted one-party rule. But the Congress.org rankings for 2008, the most recent available, show that after just one term, even Hirono is far more effective than Case after two. After one term, Hirono was more than twice as “powerful” as Case, Hirono was 50% more advanced in “position” than Case, Hirono actually had a positive 0.38 “influence” rating compared to Case’s –2, and Hirono’s “legislative activity” rating has her in the 36th percentile, whereas Case was in the basement at the 96th percentile.
Congress.org changed its “legislative activity” rankings between 2006 and 2008 to read out with percentile only, but a 36th percentile ranking for Hirono’s 2008 “legislative activity” would make her 157th out of 435 after just one term--whereas Case was 418th out of 435 after two terms and a month. By that measure, Case is 261 notches below Hirono.
HOW AKAKA, CASE, and HIRONO RANK
- Akaka: 24.67 (71 out of 100) in 2006
- Case: 5.02 (410 out of 435) in 2006
- Hirono: 10.50 (341 out of 435) in 2008
(How long in office, committee assignments and leadership)
- Akaka: 39.34 (62 out of 100) in 2006
- Case: 12.04 (373 out of 435) in 2006
- Hirono: 18.14 (238 out of 435) in 2008
(Influence votes through media, caucuses or giving money to other members)
- Akaka: 0 (97 out of 100) in 2006
- Case: -2 (426 out of 435) 98th percentile in 2006
- Hirono: 0.38 83rd percentile
(Power of legislator in being able to amend legislation, excluding ceremonial or technical amendments or nonbinding resolutions)
- Akaka: 10 (30 out of 100)
- Case: 0 (418 out of 435) 96th percentile
- Hirono: 1.0 (36th percentile)
Complete database of rankings: https://ssl.capwiz.com/congressorg/power_rankings/index.tt