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Gabbard upsets Hannemann

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

LAST UPDATED: 4:34 p.m. HST, Oct 23, 2012

Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard handily beat former Mayor Mufi Hannemann to win the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House seat in the 2nd Congressional District.

Her win caps an improbable rise from a distant underdog to victory over Hannemann, 58, for a seat he has coveted since he first ran for public office in 1986.

Hannemann conceded his loss in a speech to supporters at about 9:45 p.m.

"I'm willing to accept that because I play by the rules," Hannemann said. "You win some, you lose some."

Gabbard, the 31-year-old war veteran, had about 55 percent of the vote. Hannemann trailed with about 34 percent of the vote with nearly all the votes counted.

Gabbard will face Republican Kawika Crowley, who beat challenger Matthew DiGeronimo in the GOP primary.

Polls in recent weeks have shown Gabbard making dramatic gains and possibly even leading Hannemann, whom most believed had a big lead at the start of the campaign. The Hawaii Poll, sponsored by the Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now, showed Hannemann up by a 43-percent-to-33-percent margin, substantially less than the 65-percent-to-20-percent lead he held over Gabbard in a Hawaii Poll in February.

Others vying for the 2nd Congressional District Democratic nomination included Hilo attorney Bob Marx, longtime Congressional aide Esther Kia’aina, Hawaii Kai attorney Rafael Del Castillo and Kaneohe financial advisor Miles Shiratori.

The 2nd Congressional District seat was left without an incumbent in the race when Mazie Hirono decided to forego re-election in order to jump into a race for a U.S. Senate seat after Sen. Dan Akaka chose to retire.

Hirono has held the seat since winning it in 2006.

The district is comprised of rural parts of Oahu and all Neighbor Islands. About two-thirds of the registered voters in the district are from the Neighbor Islands but only Oahu residents have represented the district since Hawaii first gained a second U.S. House seat in 1959.

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