Dan Inouye has been virtually unopposed in his lengthy career in the U.S. Senate. Even in his most contested election in 1992, the Medal of Honor winner won with 54 percent of the vote.
Inouye’s tenure in office is an example of one-party dominance in Hawaii. One result is that with his seniority Inouye is able to have a huge impact on the economy of the state, supporting the large military presence here and bringing home billions in projects.
Perhaps the fact Inouye is essentially unchallenged is less about one-party dominance than it is about seniority and its importance to a small state like Hawaii. Residents of the state understand the benefits of having a powerful senator.
Another view is that there is value in spirited public debate, the kind of debate that often occurs in contested races. Proponents of this view might question whether it’s in the best interest of the state to have an unchallenged incumbent, even if he clearly helps the state’s economy.
And of course there are other perspectives. We would be interested in your thoughts on this question.