State Rep. Mark Takai scored a key endorsement Monday when U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth announced she is supporting his candidacy for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District seat.
Duckworth, who spent her high school and college undergraduate years in Hawaii, met Takai when both served on the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii, the undergraduate student senate at UH-Manoa.
Takai and Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, are both veterans of the Iraq War. Duckworth, a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, lost both her legs and some use of her right arm when her helicopter was hit by an rocket-propelled grenade during combat in 2004.
Duckworth, flanked by Takai and several dozen Hawaii veterans at Keehi Lagoon Memorial Park, said she and her former ASUH colleague have shared priorities including veterans affairs, education and renewable energy.
Takai has spent 19 years in the state House, representing the 33rd District (Halawa-Aiea-Newtown).
Takai, like Duckworth, is a Democrat. Others running for the 1st Congressional District seat are Honolulu City Council members Ikaika Anderson and Stanley Chang, state Sen. President Donna Mercado Kim, state Sen. Will Espero and activist Kathryn Xian.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is foregoing a reelection bid to challenge U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary next year.
Duckworth catapulted into the national spotlight when President Barack Obama selected her to be assistant secretary of veterans affairs in 2009. She won election to Congress in 2012 representing Illinois’ 8th District.