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Ed Case

Ed Case
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 2nd district
In office
November 30, 2002 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Patsy Mink
Succeeded by Mazie Hirono
Member of the Hawaii House of Representatives
from the 23rd district
In office
November 9, 1994 – November 30, 2002
Preceded by Brian Taniguchi
Succeeded by Galen Fox
Personal details
Born (1952-09-27) September 27, 1952
Hilo, Hawaii, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Audrey Nakamura
Children 2
Alma mater Williams College
University of California, Hastings
Religion Nondenominational Christianity

Edward Espenett "Ed" Case (born September 27, 1952) is an American Democratic politician who represented Hawaii in the United States House of Representatives from 2002 to 2007. Case, a Blue Dog Democrat, first came to prominence in Hawaii as majority leader of the Hawaii State Legislature and for his campaign for Governor of Hawaii in 2002. First elected to the House of Representatives in 2002 in a special election to fill the seat of Patsy Mink, who died of pneumonia, Case represented Hawaii's 2nd congressional district until 2006, when he chose not to run for another term in the House of Representatives so he could challenge Senator Daniel Akaka in the Democratic primary for Akaka's U.S. Senate seat. Case lost the primary election 53%–46%.

In 2010, Case was one of two Democratic candidates in the special election for Hawaii's 1st congressional district. With the Democratic vote split, Republican Councilman Charles Djou triumphed. After initially planning to run in the September Democratic primary for the general election nomination, Case announced that he was dropping out.[1] Colleen Hanabusa, Case's fellow Democrat in the special election, went on to win the primary and the general election against Djou. In April 2011, Case announced his candidacy in the Democratic primary for the Senate election in 2012 after Daniel Akaka announced his retirement.[2] Case lost to Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, who also beat him ten years previously in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

In July 2013, Case announced that he was joining Outrigger Enterprises Group and that his political career was "likely" to be over.[3]


  • Early life, education, and legal career 1
  • Early political career 2
  • Hawaii House of Representatives 3
    • Elections 3.1
    • Tenure 3.2
    • Committee assignments 3.3
  • 2002 gubernatorial election 4
  • U.S. House of Representatives 5
    • Elections 5.1
    • Tenure 5.2
    • Committee assignments 5.3
    • Caucus memberships 5.4
  • 2006 U.S. Senate election 6
  • 2010 special congressional election 7
  • 2012 U.S. Senate election 8
  • Papers 9
  • Personal life 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Early life, education, and legal career

Case was born in Hilo, the eldest of six children. In 1970, Case graduated from Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Kamuela. After high school, Case traveled for a year in Australia, where he worked as a jackaroo on a New South Wales sheep station, and in New Zealand. Case then attended Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he obtained his bachelor's degree in psychology in 1975.

In 1981, Case graduated from the University of California Hastings College of Law in San Francisco with a juris doctor.

From 1981 to 1982, Case served as law clerk to Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice William S. Richardson. From 1983 to 2002, he worked at the law firm Carlsmith Ball in Honolulu, where he became a partner in 1989, and served as managing partner from 1992 to 1994, when he was first elected to the Hawaii House of Representatives. Case resigned his partnership upon winning election to the United States Congress in 2002. Case told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in January 2007 that he will work for the Honolulu-based law firm of Bays Deaver Lung Rose & Baba.[4]

Early political career

Case got his first taste of political life as Legislative Assistant to Congressman and then Senator Spark Matsunaga in Washington, D.C. from 1975 to 1978. In 1985, Case won his first election, to the Mānoa Neighborhood Board of Honolulu. He became its chairman in 1987, a position he held until leaving the board in 1989.

Hawaii House of Representatives


In 1994, he decided to run for Hawaii's 23rd House District. He won the Democratic primary with 51% of the vote in a five candidate field.[5] In the general election, he defeated Green party nominee Toni Worst 59%–41%.[6] In 1996, he won re-election to a second term with 67% of the vote.[7] In 1998, he won re-election to a third term with 70% of the vote.[8] In 2000, he won re-election to a fourth term unopposed.[9]


Case served four two-year terms in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1994 to 2002, where he focused on basic change in Hawaiʻi governance. In 1999, after Case led an effort to replace the leadership of the State House, his Democratic peers elected him Majority Leader.

A conservative Democrat by Hawaii standards, Case sought to change the current way state government operated and repeatedly warned that Hawaii was not addressing long-term fiscal challenges. On the last legislative day of 2000, Case said in a floor speech: "If you cannot make those choices, please get out of the way, because you are just making it harder for the rest of us."[10]

On January 21, 1997, in the House Judiciary Committee, Case cast the lone nay vote against advancing HB117, the bill that would allow a referendum to effectively, constitutionally ban gay marriage.[11] He and six others opposed the bill again in the full house vote.[12] When he was up for re-election in November 1998, he publicly opposed the referendum. His reasoning: "changing the Constitution would go against its intended purpose — protecting the rights of the minority against the will of the majority."[11] Leading up to the November election, polls consistently predicted that the measure would pass by 70–75%, a prediction that was accurate.[13] Due to the measure's popularity, only three other politicians or candidates in Hawaii joined his position.[14]

In 2001, Case co-sponsored an unsuccessful civil unions bill.[15]

Committee assignments

  • House Judiciary Committee

2002 gubernatorial election

In early 2001, at the beginning of his fourth term in the Hawaii State House, Case chose not to continue as Majority Leader. In October 2001, Case announced his candidacy for Governor of Hawaii in 2002. Case's initial opponent was the early favorite in the race, Mayor of Honolulu Jeremy Harris, also a Democrat. Case supporters were discontented with the "Democratic Party of Hawaii machine" that had ruled the state for 40 years and perceived to have left the economy stagnant, a "machine" to which Harris was closely tied.

Despite high polling numbers, Harris abruptly dropped out of the race in May 2002 because of ongoing campaign spending investigations. Lieutenant Governor Mazie K. Hirono dropped out of her race for Mayor of Honolulu to challenge Case in the primary. A later entrant into the Democratic primary was D. G. "Andy" Anderson, the former Republican state chair and aide to former Honolulu Mayor Frank F. Fasi. Case told Hawaii voters that his campaign was one of government reform and the future as opposed to Hirono and Anderson who represented the "Old Boys' Network" and a status quo past.

In one of the closest primary elections for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Hawaii history, Hirono beat Case, 41% to 40%, with Anderson a distant third with 17%. In the general election, Hirono faced Republican Linda Lingle in the general election; Lingle's campaign reform theme was called Agenda for New Beginnings; Lingle won.

U.S. House of Representatives



U.S. Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink died on September 28, 2002, one week after the primary election, leaving her 107th Congress (2001–2003) seat vacant. She was subsequently posthumously reelected to the 108th Congress (2003–2005) in November of the same year. On November 30, 2002, Case was elected in a special election to fill her vacancy in the remaining weeks of the 107th Congress, gaining over 50% of the vote in a field of over forty. Although he didn't live in the 2nd, the federal Constitution only requires that a House candidate be a resident of the state he or she wishes to represent. During the special election, Case pointed out that he grew up on the Big Island.


Case immediately ran for reelection in a second special election on January 4, 2003 for Mink's 108th Congress seat, going up against more than three dozen other candidates. Other Democrats included Matt Matsunaga and Colleen Hanabusa. Republicans included Barbara Marumoto, Bob McDermott, and Frank Fasi. Case won that election with 43 percent of the vote.


In 2004, Case was challenged by Republican Mike Gabbard, a social conservative who focused almost exclusively on gay marriage issues. Case won his first full term with 63% of the vote.[16]


Case sponsored 36 bills between 2003–2006. Of those bills, Congress passed H.Con.Res.218 recognizing 100 years of Filipino-American immigration to America, the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park Addition Act (H.R.546 / Public Law No. 108-142), legislation (H.R. 2030 / Public Law No: 108-5) designating the U.S. Postal Service facility located in Paia, Hawaii as the Patsy Takemoto Mink Post Office Building, and the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge Expansion Act (H.R. 2619 / Public Law No. 108-481). Two of his other bills were included in subsequent legislation. H.R. 3535, to include country of origin labeling for macadamia nuts, was included in the 2008 Farm Bill. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono reintroduced the Kalaupapa Memorial Act (H.R. 4529), which she added to Public Law No. 111-11.

While Case entered the House of Representatives too late to cast a vote on the Iraq War Resolution, he supported the Iraq War throughout his tenure in the House. As late as 2006, he opposed a firm timetable for withdrawal.[17]

Case often sided with Republicans on major tax legislation. He was one of only 34 Democrats (who sided with 196 Republicans) to support reducing the estate tax.[18] He also was one of 15 Democrats (who sided with 229 Republicans) to support lower taxes on investment income.[19]

In 2005, Case voted for Rep. Jeb Hensarling's (R-TX) amendment to eliminate funding for PBS, NPR, and Title X family planning. He was unusual in being the only Democrat to support the amendment, which failed 102–320.[20][21]

Case also introduced the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Marine Refuge Act (H.R. 2376), which would have protected the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands by making them a national marine refuge. In June 2006, President Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906.

He has co-sponsored 808 bills during the same time period. He only missed 148 (6%) of 2435 votes in his tenure.[22]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

  • Blue Dog Coalition (fiscally moderate/conservative Democrats)
  • Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (third ranking, executive board)
  • Congressional Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamine (Ice Caucus)
  • Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus
  • Democratic Tax Policy and Budget Task Force (Vice Chair)
  • Homeland Security Caucus
  • House New Democrat Coalition (economically moderate Democrats)
  • Military Veterans Caucus
  • Renewable Energy and Efficiency Caucus
  • Rural Healthcare Coalition
  • U.S.-Philippines Caucus[23]

2006 U.S. Senate election

Case challenged Senator Daniel Akaka in the Democratic primary election. He lost the September primary, 53-46%. Akaka centered his campaign on the difference in support for the U.S. intervention in Iraq: Akaka was one of only a handful of Democratic Senators to vote against the use of force resolution against Iraq in 2002; Case, while not in Congress at the time of the vote, had said he would have voted in support of the resolution.[24]

2010 special congressional election

On March 29, 2009, Case announced his candidacy for Congress to represent Hawaii's 1st congressional district being vacated by Neil Abercrombie.[25] His main opponents were fellow Democrat Colleen Hanabusa and Republican Charles Djou. Both Case and Hanabusa represented different wings of the party, Case being a conservative Blue Dog Democrat, while Hanabusa is preferred by the liberal wing.[26] Hanabusa secured the endorsement of EMILY's List, the local party establishment, and local labor unions.[26][27] Case was at odds with the party establishment over his primary challenge to U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka in 2006 when he was still Representative of the 2nd district.

Both Case and Hanabusa proposed that the other drop out for the sake of party unity.[28] The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) dispatched an aide to the state in the hopes of at least ensuring no other Democrats enter the race.[26] It was unlikely either Democrat would drop out; both represented different views and both already faced off in a 2002 special election for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, which Case won.[26][29] On May 10, 2010, the DCCC said it would not spend any further resources on the race, preferring to save those resources for the November election.[30]

The election was held on May 22, 2010. Djou became the first Republican to win a Hawaii congressional election since 1988. He won with a plurality of 39% of the vote. Hanabusa came in second with 31% and Case came in third with 28% of the vote.[31][32]

Case initially said he would run in the next primary against Hanabusa, but later changed his mind and dropped out of the race, citing party unity and his third-place finish.[1]

2012 U.S. Senate election

On April 10, 2011, Case announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate, to replace retiring U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka.[33] Hirono once again defeated him, this time by a 17-point margin, 58%–41%.[34]


The Ed Case Papers were donated to the University of Hawaii at Manoa Library and are held in the Hawaii Congressional Papers Collection of the Library's Archives & Manuscripts Department. The Papers consist of materials from his years in the U.S. Congress and from his terms in the Hawaii Legislature, as well as campaign material from his successful and unsuccessful (state governor, U.S. senator) campaigns. The papers were processed in 2007 by archivist Ellen Chapman, and opened for research January 3, 2037.

Personal life

Case has two children from his first marriage, from 1988 to 1998: James (b. 1988) and David (b. 1990). In 2001 Case married Audrey Nakamura, a former classmate from Hawaii Preparatory Academy, who is a flight attendant with United Airlines. Case became reacquainted with her during their 30th class reunion. "I was in a definite, major-league crush with her for two years back in seventh and eighth grade," Case said in an interview. Audrey had two children of her own, David (b. 1983) and Megan (b. 1986), from a previous marriage.

His cousin Steve Case is the co-founder of America Online, as well as the former chairman of Time Warner, and is still one of Time Warner's biggest individual shareholders.


  1. ^ a b Ed Case ends his campaign for Hawaii House seat
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  4. ^ Legal career of Ed Case
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  10. ^ Honolulu AdvertiserExcerpt from
  11. ^ a b
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  14. ^ The Star BulletinExcerpt from
  15. ^ Civil union bill co-sponsored by Case
  16. ^ The Honolulu AdvertiserExcerpt from
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  24. ^ Chris Cillizza, "Hawaii Results: Akaka Hangs On", Washington Post, September 24, 2006
  25. ^ "Case on the comeback trail with latest bid for Congress"
  26. ^ a b c d
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External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Patsy Mink
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Mazie Hirono
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