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Gabbard to announce run for U.S. House seat

The councilwoman is the first to enter the race to replace U.S. Rep. Hirono

By Derrick DePledge

LAST UPDATED: 4:41 a.m. HST, May 26, 2011

City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard will announce today that she will run in the Democratic primary for Congress to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono.

Gabbard planned to release a video statement on her campaign website and send an email to her supporters.

She is the first candidate to enter the race to follow Hirono, who is leaving the 2nd Congressional District, which covers rural Oahu and the neighbor islands, to run for U.S. Senate.

"I refuse to accept that our children's future will be worse than past generations. The future of our children, our families, and our state and country depends upon a strong economy and good jobs," Gabbard says in the video statement.

"So in Congress this will be one of my main priorities. Without a vibrant economy, we will not be able to pay for a strong national defense, environmental protection, education, Social Security, Medicare, or other social services."

Gabbard, 30, is a captain in the Hawaii Army National Guard. She served with a medical unit in Iraq and on a security mission to help train the Kuwaiti national guard.

A former state lawmaker, she also worked as a legislative aide in Washington, D.C., to U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

Gabbard was elected to the City Council in 2010 representing the region of Kalihi Valley to Makiki. She does not have to resign her council seat to run for Congress. Her father is state Sen. Mike Gabbard (D, Kalaeloa-Makakilo), who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the 2nd District as a Republican in 2004.

Several Democrats have said they may be interested in potential campaigns in the 2nd District, including former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, former state Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser of Kauai, Big Island state Sen. Josh Green and Windward state Sen. Clayton Hee.

Former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona said he has not ruled out a possible run in the Republican primary.

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