comscore Joining the race | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News

Joining the race

Honolulu Star-Advertiser logo
Unlimited access to premium stories for as low as $12.95 /mo.
Get It Now
    Some early names of potential candidates for the Hanabusa seat in the U.S. House of Representatives

As U.S. Rep. Colleen Hana­busa readies a campaign to take on appointed U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in 2014, potential successors to her U.S. House seat are preparing for what promises to be a wide-open primary contest.

The seat representing the 1st Congressional District (Urban Hono­lulu) has changed parties twice since 2010, and at least one analyst says the campaign could attract a large number of unproven Demo­crats competing to take on an equally unproven Republican.

Hanabusa won re-election last year against Republican Charles Djou after initially winning the seat from him in 2010. Djou had won the seat in an open winner-take-all special election earlier that year to replace former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who had resigned to run for governor.

"Since there aren’t any favorites from the Demo­cratic side, it does open up the possibility that you could get a wide range of (Demo­cratic) candidates there," Neal Milner, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii, said Tuesday. "The Republicans’ problem is that you’ve got an open seat and there isn’t an obvious candidate who could win."

Such a contest would likely tilt in the Demo­crats’ favor, he said.

"A person thinking about running as a Republican has a serious problem, and that is a strongly Demo­cratic district," Milner said. "And the Republican who would be likely to run isn’t so extraordinarily well known and popular that he or she would be likely to give a Demo­crat a fight."

Hanabusa has yet to formally announce her plans, but a campaign source says she has decided to challenge Schatz.

No candidates immediately stepped forward to announce a bid for the potential U.S. House opening, but one is scheduled to reveal his decision at a news conference today across from the federal building in Hono­lulu.

City Councilman Stanley Chang said Tuesday he has received encouragement from many supporters to seek the office and that he would be making a decision "soon." Chang would be giving up his seat on the Council because he is up for re-election in 2014.

Chang filed paperwork in January with the Federal Election Commission for a potential run as a Demo­crat in House District 1 and raised a token $26,000 in the first quarter of 2013, according to FEC records.

A decision to enter the race would give him a leg up on others who said they were weighing whether to run in a primary. Those included state Sen. Will Espero (D, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point), Rep. K. Mark Takai (D, Halawa-Aiea-Newtown) and City Councilman Ikaika Anderson. Candidates for U.S. House are not required to live in the district, as long as they live in the state.

Others mentioned in political circles as potential candidates included former U.S. Rep. Ed Case, former Hono­lulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and former Gov. Linda Lingle.

Lingle said she would not be running. Case and Hannemann did not immediately return telephone messages seeking comment.

Djou also did not return a telephone message seeking comment.

Hawaii GOP Chairman David Chang said he was unaware of Djou’s plans, but regardless, thinks an open seat would be a great opportunity for Republicans and Hawaii.

"We had a Republican hold that seat, and he’s got name recognition," David Chang said of Djou. "He ran last year and did relatively well considering Barack Obama was on top of the ticket.

"On top of that, the House is majority Republican. It would be wise for Hawaii to have one member in each party to be able to make sure that when any bills or anything related to Hawaii go in the House, it get the proper attention that it deserves."

State Democratic Party Chairman Dante Carpenter did not return a message seeking comment.

Milner said the district is heavily tilted in the Demo­crats’ favor, and the winner of the primary is likely to be favored regardless of who is on the GOP side.

"It’s quite possible that the significant battle is going to be fought in the (Demo­cratic) primary, and whoever wins the primary is a heavy favorite in the general election," he said.

Milner said whoever enters the fray would be wise to study the strategy of U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who overcame a big deficit to defeat Hannemann in the 2012 Demo­cratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District. Gabbard, helped by the backing of select mainland political action committees and a well-organized ground game in Hawaii, built a groundswell of support for her campaign of youth and "fresh leadership" for the state.

"You might get some people who learned from Tulsi Gabbard that if you’ve got a little bit of guts and a fair amount of political campaign acumen that you jump into this race because it’s going to be your last best shot for a long time, the way things go here," Milner said. "If I were a potential candidate, I would just read the Tulsi Gabbard campaign manual, because she sure knew how to do this stuff."

Comments have been disabled for this story...

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up