Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) said lingering resentment over Ed Case's 2006 Senate run could hurt his chances in the 2012 Senate primary.

Case, then a congressman, challenged Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) in the Democratic primary that year but lost, 53 percent to 46 percent. Many Democrats were offended that he made Akaka's age an issue in the race — the senator was 82 by Election Day.


Hanabusa, who faced off against Case in the special election for former Rep. Neil Abercrombie's seat last year, said some Democrats remain sore about that race.

"When you look at the multi-cultural base of the community that we have there, it's something that probably does linger with a good portion of the Democratic base," Hanabusa told The Ballot Box.

She made a similar charge ahead of the May 2010 special election, wherein she finished second and Case third.

Case "humbly" announced he was planning to run for the retiring Akaka's seat on Sunday. He's likely to be joined in the primary by other well-known Democrats.

Hanabusa has said she's interested in running, as is Rep. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats, poised for filibuster defeat, pick at old wounds  Schumer prepares for Senate floor showdown with Manchin, Sinema Dems worry they'll be boxed out without changes to filibuster, voting rules  MORE (D-Hawaii). Former Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann are also thought to be mulling bids. Hanabusa said she wouldn't be deterred by a crowded primary field.

"I have never seen a seat that's like this seat where you don't have a lot of [Democrats] jump in," she said. "It would be easier if the race did narrow down, but that's not something that I would expect just given the nature of us Democrats in Hawaii."

During the 2010 special election race, Case and Hanabusa split the Democratic vote, handing victory to Republican Charles Djou. He subsequently lost to Hanabusa in a one-on-one matchup in the general.

The Senate primary isn't until the summer of 2012, but Hanabusa said candidates need to get a jump on fundraising.

"I think you'd have to start raising the money now," she said. "But you'd have to probably be in the race no later than the end of the year."

Still, Hanabusa admitted she hasn't focused on raising money in the first quarter of 2011.

"We haven't really done a lot of fundraising in this quarter," she said. "I'm not sure what the numbers are going to be, but we are going to start to move on our fundraising in the next quarter."

Hanabusa said she just wanted some time off the trail after running in two congressional elections and a primary in the last 18 months. "Give us a break here," she said.