Thursday, February 7, 2008

Faleomavaega Suffers Major Humiliation

It now makes more sense as to why Faleomavaega would extend his visit to New Zealand and skip his party's presidential delegate selection caucus, which was held February 5. It very well could have been that his sister-in-law, Terry Hunkin, sent him a signal that the candidate they were backing, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, was going to fall short and lose to N.Y. Senator Hillary Clinton in the territory's balloting. Terry Hunkin, American Samoa's outgoing Democratic National Committeewoman, also serves as state chairman for the Obama campaign.

In retrospect, it probably should have been no surprise that Clinton defeated Obama 57 percent to 43 percent because that is about the level of support Faleomavaega (whose real name is Eni F. Hunkin, Jr.) himself has been getting in elections in recent years. The level of his personal popularity was reflected in the caucus results.

Nonetheless, Faleomavega risked his prestige on a very public backing of Obama and he and his chief political operative, Lisa Williams, have been handed a humiliating defeat in his own party.

If Clinton does go on to win the nomination and be elected president, Faleomavaega can expect to be frozen out for the duration of the Clinton presidency. At least that has been the historical pattern of the Clintons, who have been known to punish their enemies severely. Should he lose his congressional seat, he should not expect the Interior Deputy Assistant Secretaryship for territories as a consolation prize either.

The Democratic presidential race remains too close to call and if Obama prevails, Faleomavaega could find himself vindicated. However, he may have been irreparably damaged at home politically in the process.


Philip said...

Interesting blog. But I wouldn't call the primary result a "huge defeat." Obama still won one delegate from the primary. Clinton only has two. (not counting the super delegate votes.)

Besides, Eni can't win. If he had shifted his support for Clinton, you could have bashed him just as egregiously.

I don't think Eni's support of Obama has anything to do with future political benefits. If it did, he would have withheld the name of his preferred candidate until after the Super Tuesday elections.

Anonymous said...

The American political system rewards winners and their supporters and punishes losers and their supporters. Given his responsibility for American Samoa, Eni would have done well to have remained neutral, as have the overwhelmingly majority of the "super delegates." He better pray Hillary doesn't win. He is a loser at home because he could not translate his support of Obama into a win for Obama at the convention. It is a demonstration of his lack of support and lack of popularity.