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Hanabusa Makes It Official, Will Take On Schatz in 2014

Posted May 2, 2013, 06:12 PM HST Updated May 3, 2013, 03:07 PM HST
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US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Courtesy photo.

US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa made it official today, announcing she will challenge Sen. Brian Schatz in the 2014 Democratic primary.

The primary race, to be held in conjunction with the regular 2014 primary election, will be part of the special election to fill out the remaining term of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye.

That means another election will be held in 2016 with the winner of that race serving a six-year term.

Hanabusa last week indicated she would be a candidate for US senator, ending speculation about whether she was considering running for governor next year.

“While it has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of the First Congressional District and I have always done so to the best of my ability, I believe that I can do more to serve our state,” Hanabusa said in a statement issued today.

Hanabusa said she would complete her current term representing the congressional district consisting of urban Oahu. She was elected to the seat in the 2010 general election.

Prior to that she had lost the May 2010 special election for the seat to Charles Djou after Hanabusa and fellow Democrat Ed Case split much of the vote. The seat had been vacated by Gov. Neil Abercrombie as he prepared his gubernatorial run.

Before that, Hanabusa was the first woman president of the Hawaii Senate. She was first elected to the Senate in 1998.

Schatz, formerly the state’s lieutenant governor, has served as one of Hawaii’s two senators since December when he was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to fill the seat vacated by Inouye’s death.

US Sen. Brian Schatz. Courtesy photo.

US Sen. Brian Schatz. Courtesy photo.

Abercrombie’s appointment of Schatz took some by surprise as Inouye had indicated that he preferred Hanabusa to be his successor.

Schatz was a member of the state House from 1998 to 2006. In 2008 he took over as chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii until becoming Abercrombie’s running mate in 2010.

Schatz announced last month that he had raised $1.1 million in the past quarter for his 2014 election bid.

In addition to an early money lead, by 2014 Schatz will also have served two years in the Senate. He is already Hawaii’s senior senator, having been appointed to his post the month before Sen. Mazie Hirono took office.

That was a point made several times today in an emailed fundraising pitch by Keith Amemiya, finance chairman of Schatz’s election campaign.

“Senate seniority is a critical issue, especially for smaller states like ours,” Amemiya said.

“This seniority advantage would be lost with anyone else in the seat,” he said.

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