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Hanabusa to challenge Schatz for Inouye Senate seat

  • CHAD K. UYENO / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER
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U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa has decided to challenge U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary next year, according to a source close to her campaign.

Hanabusa was the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye’s choice as his replacement, and the senator had urged Gov. Neil Abercrombie to select her just before he died at 88 in December. Abercrombie instead chose Schatz, his lieutenant governor.

Hanabusa had been considering primary challenges to either Schatz or Abercrombie. A source close to her campaign said Monday that Hanabusa had decided on a Senate campaign and was informing close allies.

A primary between Schatz, 40, and Hanabusa, 61, would evoke generational as well as political fault lines within the Democratic Party. Schatz, a progressive, has the potential to build seniority in the Senate over a generation. Hanabusa, a more traditional liberal, will contend that her experience prepares her to have an immediate impact.

The campaign will also have the spectre of Inouye, who was the state’s most powerful politician and commanded the loyalty of scores of influential Democrats.

The election next year is for the remaining two years of Inouye’s six-year term, which expires in 2016.

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