By Christian Smith
Self-proclaimed socialist and candidate for Hawaii's First Congressional District, Kaniela Ing, says that warnings from former FBI Director James Comey and Democratic leaders about electing progressives don't phase him.
His words to Cheddar came in response to a tweet on Sunday, in which Comey told democrats not "to lose your minds and rush to the socialist left." He continued: "America’s great middle wants sensible, balanced, ethical leadership."
In Ing's view, supporting and promoting more liberal candidates is precisely what the party needs after decades of alienating much of the countryーthe South, in particular.
"These are states that were rooted in the workers' movement that were Democrats for generations and, all of a sudden, from Reagan to now, they've only been talked to by one side," the Hawaiian State Representative said in an interview on Cheddar Monday.
Comey's tweet followed a surge in support for more socialist-leaning, progressive candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who upset 20-year incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in their June primary race. During her campaign, Ocasio-Cortez refused donations from the wealthy and focused on mobilizing hundreds of volunteers to canvass and pass out campaign materials around New York City.
Ocasio-Cortez's grassroots strategy is exactly what Ing wants to emulate in his Oahu-based district.
"We're not relying on the typical DCCC Democratic campaign where you just call a bunch of rich people, ask them for thousands of dollars, and then just run a bunch of TV ads," Ing said. "We knock on doors every single day. We have volunteers out there making calls, sending textsーthat's the way we're going to win."
Ing and six other Democrats are battling for the party's House seat nomination being vacated by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), who is running governor.
Former Rep. Ed Case currently leads in the latest poll numbers from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, with 36 percent of respondents preferring Case. That same poll placed Ing in fourth, with 6 percent.
Ing says he isn't worried about the latest poll numbers, because they are based on "likely voters," which often don't apply to groups like college students that his campaign is courting.
Hawaii will hold its Congressional primary races on August 11.
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