Monday, February 18, 2008

Faleomavaega Turns Back on AS Dems; Embraces Hawaii

Although he could not find time to attend the presidential nominating caucus of American Samoa's Democratic Party, which Hillary Clinton won over Eni's candidate, Barack Obama, he has no trouble squeezing out a time in his busy, globe trotting schedule to be in Hawaii for tonight's Obama rally ahead of tomorrow's caucuses. Just as he no doubt realized the deck was stacked against him in American Samoa on February 5 and chose to hide out in New Zealand with a "scheduling conflict," his schedule seems to have a lot of clear time on it for Hawaii. The taxpayers again are picking up the tab, of course, because Faleomavaega is part of a Congressional delegation (CODEL) that is on its way to American Samoa for minimum wage hearings on Friday. The Obama rally is this evening (Monday) and the next plane to American Samoa is not until Thursday. So, the time will be filled with PACOM briefings and probably National Park Service facility inspections, none of which likely will be scheduled so as to conflict with any political events.

And just as he knew his man was going down in American Samoa, he knows the Hawaii-born Obama is heavily favored to win the caucuses here tomorrow, even though the powerful Sen. Daniel K. Inouye is backing Hillary Clinton. It should be no surprise Faleomavaega is spending more of his time in Hawaii than American Samoa because this is where he grew up. Although it is not required by federal law or the constitution, he has no dwelling in American Samoa that he can call his home. He and his wife reportedly co-own property in Nevada, where she has resided in recent years (no point in being in Washington or American Samoa--the two places Faleomavaega rarely can be found) since pulling up stakes in Washington. Since she moved out of the D.C. area, however, she does go to American Samoa every election season so that voters can see that, despite swirling rumors to the contrary, they still are married.

Turning his back on his party in American Samoa should not particularly prove politically costly to him because party leaders don't like him anyway. Samoa News and other local media never seem curious to ask party officers when they will be endorsing Faleomavaega for re-election. Why? Because they won't. And he knows it, so he does not ask for party endorsement. A number of years ago when he was still winning comfortable victories for his House seat, he also ran for Democratic National Committee for the territory. He lost. Big time. Same reason a lot of people believe he will never run for governor. They believe that his winning margin is made up by people who vote for him to keep him off the island. Out of sight, out of mind.

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