U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said Tuesday that she would not legally challenge her Democratic primary loss to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.
The congresswoman lost to Schatz by 1,769 votes. The outcome was delayed for nearly a week after the state Office of Elections allowed voters in two Puna precincts on Hawaii island struggling to recover from Tropical Storm Iselle to cast ballots in a makeup vote. The state also found about 800 previously uncounted absentee ballots on Maui.
“A big mahalo to our volunteers and supporters for your hard work, sacrifice and most importantly, for your trust,” Hanabusa said in a statement. “We would not have gotten as close as we did without the love and Aloha you poured into our campaign. I will forever be humbled and inspired by your support.”
“Though I will not be challenging the results of this election, I remain very concerned about the public’s confidence and trust in our election process. I ask former colleagues and friends in the Hawaii State Legislature to explore what is necessary to ensure the people that their vote truly counts. I heard from many who feel strongly that they were disenfranchised from the voting process this election and I stand ready to support any collaborative effort to have those voices heard.”
“It is time for me to finish my work in the Congress and reflect on the last 16 years of my life in public office. I always wanted to give back and make things better for the people of Hawaii by creating opportunities for the next generation to thrive. I can move on from this election knowing I listened to the people and fought hard for the right to represent them, honorably.”
A candidate, political party or at least 30 voters from any election district can contest the primary before the state Supreme Court within six days of Friday’s final tally, so the deadline is Thursday. The challenge must show that voting problems had the potential to change the outcome of the election.
After Hanabusa’s announcement, Schatz issued the following statement:
“This election has been extraordinary from beginning to end. It took heart, teamwork and a belief that together we are making a real difference for our state and our country.
“I want to congratulate Congresswoman Hanabusa on waging a spirited and tough battle. Now it is time for us to unite as we move forward to the general election.
“I thank the voters for placing their trust and confidence in me. I will never lose sight of the fact that I am only able to do my work representing the people of Hawaii because of the voters’ support.”