Chad Blair: Ed Case attracts a challenger from the left

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If you’re planning to run for Congress from Hawaii, here are some essential platform positions you may want to focus on:

A livable minimum wage. Pro-work, pro-working class and pro-choice. Universal health care and universal pre-kindergarten.

A path to citizenship to keep families together. A planet that is not destroyed by climate change.

These are some of the issues that Sergio Alcubilla described on his website, Sergio4Hawaii. “Husband, father, immigrant, poverty law chief / lawyer, community organizer and department head,” a recent tweet read.

Alcubilla – he pronounces al-coo-bill-ya – is a candidate for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District, which encompasses the greater urban area of ​​Oahu. He possesses the kind of greedy idealism often exhibited in young candidates (he’s 42) when they first run for political office, before a few years of work can grind the edges.

But Alcubilla’s campaign faces two big challenges: Most people have never heard of him, making it difficult to raise funds and spread information. And the seat he’s running for is held by Rep. Ed Case, who says he’s seeking re-election.

Sergio Alcubilla and his family.
A recent tweet from Sergio Alcubilla.

“We’re just getting started and I know it’s an uphill battle,” says Alcubilla. “I know my rival will get commercial money and will probably overtake me. But it’s about going door-to-door and fighting for values. This race will not be about the money but about the people who care. I think it’s worth it. We will surpass Rep. Case.

In an email on Friday, Case confirmed he is running for re-election to the House and is welcoming challengers.

“I take no votes for granted and will work as hard as I can to once again earn the trust and support of my constituents for my continued service to Hawaii and to our country,” he wrote. “I look forward to a full campaign with all the naysayers who think they can do a better job.”

The congressman elected the ballroom Ed Case Dole Cannery.
Ed Case, elected Congressman, at the Dole Cannery Ballroom in 2018. Cory Lum / Civil Beat / 2018

Most political observers I know think Case will easily win another term.

“I would say her seat is secure,” says John Hart, professor of communications at the University of the Pacific in Hawaii. “I think he has obviously reached a kind of relaxation with those in the party who see him as a maverick – and I’m not talking about the gradual end of the party but the administrative end. So I don’t think he’ll get a challenge from that direction.

Hart continued, “But if progressives were successful in making waves, could the power structure reconsider? It would require a major change. Case is an outgoing Democrat from the state of Hawaii, and history indicates that they are doing extremely well. While some describe him as being to the right of his constituency, I don’t see a level of popular discontent with him outside of the progressive end.

Case, 69, faced no opposition in the 2020 Democratic primary and defeated his Republican opponent in a landslide.

But he made some local progressives unhappy with him. Last month, a group called Our Hawaii Action launched a six-figure media campaign to persuade the congressman to support President Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan.

Case is one of a handful of moderates “who have expressed doubts about the size of the budget deal and some of its more ambitious provisions which are supported by the left wing of the party,” as recently reported. writes my DC colleague Nick Grube.

Biden’s priorities

Case preferred that the House vote first on the $ 1,000 billion bipartisan infrastructure plan, which involves Republicans in the Senate. He supports Build Back Better but is worried about how he will be paid.

Now both plans are in limbo as Congress and the President attempt to strike a deal.

I don’t know how bad the BBB campaign will be, next August when the primary rolls around. But Alcubilla says Biden’s plan “is at the very heart of my campaign for Congress.”

As he explains on his website, “It will cut costs for working families and the elderly, lower taxes for our families with children, invest in our teachers and schools, and create new jobs to fight the climate change. By making the tax code fairer so that the richest companies and big corporations pay their fair share, we can finally take a step towards an economy that works for all of us, not just those at the top. “

Alcubilla also supports the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (it’s stalled), the Green New Deal (ditto) and the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. in areas such as public housing and facilities and education (ditto again).

Alcubilla, married with two children who lives in Pauoa, was previously a lawyer and director of external relations at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii. He received his law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii.

He is a member of the board of directors of the Hawaii Philippine Lawyers Association and administrator of the Young Filipino Leaders Program. Most recently, he is a volunteer member of the sponsorship committee of the Hawaii Workers Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of low-wage workers.

Born in Iloilo City, Philippines, Alcubilla immigrated to the United States at the age of 7 after his father – according to the candidate’s website – a military police officer, was murdered “by a Communist squad during the tumultuous period “of the people’s power revolution during the Marcos dictatorship. He eventually attended the University of Florida where he pursued a double major in political science and economics following the terrorist attack of September 11.

“A different path”

Her website says Alcubilla was inspired to complete seminary school and receive a master’s degree in religious education with a focus on interfaith and interfaith peace building.

What he doesn’t say is that it was at Unification Theological Seminary in New York, which was founded by Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Now deceased, Moon was a controversial figure, including a 1982 conviction and jail term in the United States for filing false federal income tax returns and conspiring.

When asked about UTS, Alcubilla describes it “as one of those things I did in my twenties. The idealization of youth.

After playing with a run for the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii in 2022, Alcubilla switched to the CD1 race. His supporters include Tim Vandeveer, the former chairman of the Hawaii Democratic Party, and Gary Hooser, a former party vice chairman and former state senator who himself ran unsuccessfully for Congress and office. of the lieutenant governor.

“He has shown through his work in his life and his experience that he cares and is committed to workers, to the underprivileged, to families,” Hooser told me. “He could have chosen another path to earn money, to go to work for a big company or a big company, but he didn’t.

Hooser continued, “Congress, quite frankly, and all politics is full of people looking at the world through a lens of privilege. And Sergio looks at the world through the genuine lens of who he is – a childhood immigrant. , working families – and that’s refreshing You don’t have much more ground than Sergio.


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