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Hanabusa announces run for U.S. Senate seat in Hawaii

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May 14, 2013


By Jennifer Springer

HONOLULU, Hawaii: Hawaii's 1st Congressional District Rep. Colleen Hanabusa announced her candidacy for U.S. Senate on May 2, 2013, setting up a primary showdown that almost certainly will be the state's race to watch next year.[1]

Hanabusa, who is currently serving her second term in Congress will be running against fellow Democrat and incumbent U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who was appointed to the post after longtime Sen. Daniel Inouye died in December 2012.[1]

Senator Daniel Inouye died December 17, 2012, 50 years after he was first elected to represent Hawaii in the U.S. Senate. He was the longest serving sitting Senator in U.S. history.[2] According to Hawaii law, Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) had to appoint someone to the open seat until the special election in 2014. The appointee was required to be one of three names submitted by the state party of the incumbent.

Schatz's appointment by Gov. Neil Abercrombie came as a surprise to some in Hawaii.[1] Inouye gave his preference for his successor in a letter to Abercrombie. In the letter, Inouye listed Colleen Hanabusa as his pick to replace him in the U.S. Senate. Representative Hanabusa topped the list of early contenders.[3]

Hanabusa told The Associated Press that voters on the islands didn't have much of a chance to influence Abercrombie's decision.[1] "Brian was not elected. He was appointed," she said. "And I don't think the people have really had an opportunity to weigh in on who they want to represent them in the United States Senate."

Under Hawaii law, Schatz was sworn in immediately after being appointed for a term to last until the state's next election.[4]

Hawaii's primary is scheduled for August 9, 2014.[1] The winner between Schatz and Hanabusa would then need to win a general election against the Republican nominee or other opponents, though no other major candidates have declared themselves in the race.[1] The 2014 winner will hold the seat for two years until 2016, the end of Inouye's original term.[1]

Schatz is a former lieutenant governor of the state who has already compiled more than $1 million in campaign cash and more than a dozen endorsements from key groups.[5] He raised $1.1 million in the first quarter, to Hanabusa’s $230,000.[5] He also has snagged key endorsements from the League of Conservation Voters and labor groups and will be supported by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.[5] The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced on April 23 that it plans to back Schatz in his bid for re-election next year amid the primary challenge from Hanabusa.[6]

On May 3, 2013, the widow of Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Inouye endorsed Hanabusa’s bid against Sen. Brian Schatz (D), a move she said honors one of the late senator’s “last requests.”[7] In a statement Irene Hirano Inouye said, “Shortly after she was elected President of the Hawaii State Senate, Dan recognized that Colleen was more than capable of succeeding him and he began to mentor her. His last wish was that Colleen serve out his term because he was confident in her ability to step into the Senate and immediately help Hawaii. I am honoring one of his last requests, and look forward to supporting Colleen on the campaign trail.”[7] On May 7th, 2013 EMILY'S List endorsed Hanabusa over incumbent Schatz.[8][9]

Hanabusa has said that while she disagrees with Abercrombie's pick of Schatz, she acknowledges it was his decision to fill the seat.[1] "That doesn't then somehow say that Brian is entitled to that seat and that he is an incumbent in the true sense of the word," Hanabusa said.[1]

Schatz's campaign spokesman Bill Meheula said in a statement that the race will be about the kind of future Hawaii wants for its people and next generation. "We look forward to sharing the Senator's work and vision for Hawaii, and we welcome Rep. Hanabusa to the race," Meheula said.[1]

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