UPDATE: After sending a "no comment" response to this reporter July 6, Elwin Ahu sent out the following tweet July 7:
"Rumor floating: I'm running for Senate? Huh? NOT true! Looking forward to Communion this weekend at New Hope Honolulu! God is soooo good!"
We stand by our story as being accurate as of July 6 and have written evidence from Ahu to support our story.
Here is the story as published July 6:
by Andrew Walden
Sources within New Hope Church say that Democrats are scheming to plant a hand-picked candidate to make a seemingly suicidal attempt to defeat Linda Lingle in the August 11, 2012 Hawaii Republican Primary.
The alleged Democrats’ Republican? Elwin Ahu, lead pastor of the 12,000-member Honolulu network of New Hope Churches. One GOP source has been quietly following the surreptitious effort to put an Ahu campaign together. Says the source, “He (Ahu) knows Inouye, Akaka, Don Horner, all of those guys.”
First Hawaiian Bank Chairman and CEO Don Horner, anointed as the second coming of Walter Dods by Governor Neil Abercrombie, is a leader of the Hawaii Pastors Roundtable and a pastor of New Hope Church who conducts an influential Bible study class every Wednesday evening at New Hope Diamond Head. Saying that Horner “exemplifies the spirit of Christ”, on May 27 New Hope presented Horner with its’ 2011 Spirit of Aloha award. The presentation did not feature imagery of a camel passing through the eye of a needle.
Horner serves Abercrombie as Chair of the Board of Education and serves Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle as Chair of the HART Transit Authority. It was Elwin Ahu’s sister, Lei Ahu Isa—herself an ex-Republican who was before that a Democratic State Legislator—who resigned January 25 from the elected Board of Education in order to allow Abercrombie to appoint Horner in her place.
During his campaign, Abercrombie suggested that New Hope Church was spreading “Nazi propaganda” against him. But in office, even as he alienates his own base constituencies, Abercrombie has proved quite adept at manipulating Christians to serve his agenda. In addition to the appointment of Horner, Abercrombie snagged Catholic Priest Marc Alexander to take a job running Abercrombie’s homeless sweeps. In the run-up to APEC, Alexander has been instrumental in efforts to bring Christian charities into line by convincing them to stop feeding the homeless in public parks in and around Waikiki.
Ahu was appointed Circuit Court Judge by Chief Justice Ronald Moon in 1994 and then reappointed to a full 10-year term by Democratic Governor Ben Cayetano in 1997. He quit two years later to become a full-time pastor at New Hope.
In spite of her moderate policies, polling shows that Lingle continues to enjoy astronomical popularity among core GOP voters. A March, 2011 survey conducted by Public Policy Polling puts Lingle’s favorability numbers at 71% among self-identified conservatives, 78% among self-identified Republicans, and 86% among McCain voters.
Informed of the possibility of an Ahu candidacy, a highly placed Republican source scoffed, saying "He'd have to be crazy to think he could beat Lingle in a Republican Primary." But a source in Ahu’s inner circle of advisors indicates the game plan is to mobilize thousands of New Hope church members to swamp the low-turnout Republican Primary and put him over the top.
(Ironically, at the May 13 Hawaii GOP Convention, delegates seen as being close to Linda Lingle defeated an effort to bring about a modified-closed primary for Hawaii Republicans which would make crossover voting much more difficult.)
If Lingle—the one candidate with a track record of defeating Mazie Hirono-- were out of the Senate race, national Democrats could free up millions of campaign dollars to defend Democrat-held US Senate seats on the mainland in 2012. Many observers see 2012 as a year in which the GOP could gain control of the US Senate but the Real Clear Politics Battle for the Senate analysis says it is no sure bet. RCP projects a Senate with 45 Democrats and 47 Republicans and eight races too close to call. In a year in which disaffected donors are deserting Obama and the Senate Democrats right and left, a few million dollars diverted from Hawaii could make all of the difference.
In a February 24 interview Senator Dan Inouye indicated he wants to keep the playing field clear in Hawaii so he can dedicate his financial resources to help mainland Senate Democrats. Contrasting 2012 with previous elections, Inouye said:
“…circumstances have changed. The last election I was able to concentrate fully on Senator Akaka. But now I’m President Pro-Tem, I’m Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and 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 reelection time.”
Such national considerations were in play on the Republican side of Hawaii's 2010 races. Many suspect an October 13, 2010 Rasmussen poll showing Inouye pulling only 53% of the vote in 2010 was deployed by National Republicans in order to trick Democrats into pouring even more money into Hawaii races. Three weeks after the Rasmussen poll was taken, Inouye won the election with 71% of the vote.
It worked. The National Institute on Money in State Politics reports that Democrats outspent Republicans $13M to $3M in Hawaii in 2010.
In a January 5, 2011 email to supporters, Rep Charles Djou explained: “For Hawaii, for the first time in not years, but decades, we gave the voters a real choice. As relayed by other members of Congress, our hard-fought battle allowed the GOP to gain 3-5 additional seats on the mainland.”
Now sources say Democrats are scheming to knock Lingle out of the race so they don’t lose 3-5 additional Senate seats on the mainland.
With control of the Senate, Democrats would be able to block House efforts to repeal Obamacare even if a Republican is elected President.
Don Horner did not respond to request for comment for this article. Elwin Ahu responded via an associate who said Ahu would have no comment.