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Trio’s race to D.C. a near ‘slam dunk’

William Cole
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Brian Schatz (from left), Colleen Hanabusa, Tulsi Gabbard

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Democrat Colleen Hanabusa greeted supporters Saturday at Kaka‘ako Agora after early results were announced showing her with a wide lead over other candidates for the urban Honolulu 1st District seat.

The 2014 storm of political controversy — and weather — wasn’t there this time for Colleen Hanabusa and Brian Schatz in Saturday’s Democratic congressional primary, with both nailing lopsided victories in U.S. House and Senate races.

Hanabusa, who is seeking a return to the House, had 74,013 votes for the urban Honolulu 1st District seat compared with the next highest vote-getter, Leinaala “Lei” Ahu Isa, a trustee for the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs who had 11,518 votes.

Schatz, with the benefit of incumbency in the U.S. Senate, had 162,468 votes to Makani Christensen’s 11,826. Christensen, a Honolulu resident, is the founder of Keawe Adventures.

In a storm-delayed Senate Democratic primary in 2014 — one of the most dramatic races in state history — Schatz bested Hanabusa by 1,782 votes.

At stake at the time was the likely candidate to fill the remaining term of the late Sen. Dan Inouye. A makeup election was held after two Big Island precincts were unable to cast ballots because of Tropical Storm Iselle.

Expected results

Saturday’s election had no such drama.

In the other House race, for the 2nd District encompassing rural Oahu and the neighbor islands, the seat held by U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was hers to keep. Gabbard received 79,562 votes. Rival Shay Chan Hodges, a Maui resident, had 14,567 votes.

“It’s a nice evening, no question,” Hanabusa said by phone. She said the results were a reflection of her supporters. “This is a reflection of their investment in me, and I hope that I live up to it,” she said.

Hanabusa is running for the two-year term after U.S. Rep Mark Takai died in July after battling pancreatic cancer. Hanabusa also said she’ll run in a special election for the last two months of Takai’s unfinished term.

“If I win in the general and in the special (election) at the same time, I think that I’m probably the best person to hit the ground running because of the fact that it would be filling out Mark’s term,” she said.

Gabbard said she spent the day visiting parts of her district on Oahu, sign-waving with supporters and “thanking people as I saw them who came up and said, ‘Hey, Tulsi, I already voted for you.’ It was actually quite a lot of fun.”

The Democratic winners will face Republican and other party challengers in the general election.

But barring some unexpected outcome, the three Democratic election winners appear headed toward the predictable outcome of past Hawaii congressional elections, election watchers say.

Looking to November

“It’s almost a slam dunk” for Hanabusa, Schatz and Gabbard to win in the general election, said Hawaii political observer Jerry Burris.

Hanabusa, 65, is “extremely well known” and kind of projects as a quasi-incumbent, Burris said. Hanabusa served for four years in the U.S. House before deciding to take on Schatz in the Senate, who was appointed to the seat by then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

“People respect her,” Burris said. She’s “not your favorite neighbor,” he added, but “she is your favorite leader.”

Hanabusa currently is chairwoman of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board.

Schatz, Burris said, is pushing his incumbency and conveying, “I’m already in there (the U.S. Senate), I’m already making friends, I’m already gaining seniority.”

Schatz, who is 43, says on his website that he “serves on three Senate committees essential to the future of Hawaii: Appropriations; Commerce, Science, and Transportation; and Indian Affairs.”

‘Provocative’ but canny

The 35-year-old Gabbard is a Sunday talk show favorite, but the high-profile national image she has cultivated is also one that some find troubling, with Hawaii voters traditionally looking more to the congressional delegation to quietly bring home the bacon.

Gabbard is not one to toe the party line, breaking with the Democratic establishment to endorse U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whom she nominated for president at the Democratic National Convention. She has subsequently said she will vote for Hillary Clinton in November.

Burris said Gabbard can be “provocative when it kind of enhances her visibility,” but she’s also canny. “I don’t think the Bernie thing hurt her. There are a lot of Bernie people here.”

14 responses to “Trio’s race to D.C. a near ‘slam dunk’”

  1. lunalilohi says:

    Crooked Trump will more than likely lie again and say that these elections were rigged by the federal government, as the ignoramus has already publicly stated about November’s presidential election.

    • Mana07 says:

      Crooked Hillary will more than likely continue her habitual lying just like she has done for the last several decades along side her philandering sleaze of a husband. The ignoramus has already mishandled national secrets and gotten people killed through her incompetence.

    • amela says:

      That’s the mentality of Donald and his people. People who can be easily manipulated and influenced. Hope they get more educated and do some research. And by the way just buy some toys and install a swing is all an employer needs to do for employees kids care, yikes.

    • klastri says:

      Mr. Trump’s recent incitement about the election being stolen from him should show his pathetic supporters that Trump is a dangerous psychotic that has created this election rigging nonsense.

      Trump is the least fit candidate to ever run for President.

  2. JKIsle says:

    Wow Tulsi won 84.5% of votes cast–despite the fact that all the major media in Hawaii, HNN, the Star-Advertiser, the Maui News, the Maui Times, West Hawaii Today, Hilo Tribune Herald (evidently to please Clinton in some way?), and even national media like Daily Beast, ran negative hit pieces on Tulsi. 85% is practically the same percentage of votes Tulsi got in 2014 when she ran for reelection against no primary opponent. This means that the people of Hawaii are a lot smarter than those in the media give them credit for.

    • leihanas says:

      A landslide win for the people, Tulsi Gabbard’s integrity and honesty are unmatched and Hawaii knows it.

      • entrkn says:

        I completely agree with leihanas. Tulsi Gabbard and Brian Schatz are doing a great job for Hawaii in Washington and I am glad to see that the great majority of voters get that and appreciate them both. Hanabusa, on the other hand, did not perform nearly as well or effectively the last time she was in Washington and I don’t expect her to do much for Hawaii this time either. Hawaii should be putting younger, more dedicated, and more loyal politicians into vacancies in Congress and in the Senate who will compliment Schatz and Gabbard.

  3. noheawilli says:

    The title of this one makes me sick, I mean seriously ill in my stomach.

    • klastri says:

      The majority of voters obviously don’t agree with you.

      You always have the option to move.

      • noheawilli says:

        And with our 2 leading prezi candidate that is certainly an option, but have you seen how part of hillarys plan to is heavily tax those who seek options across the border? Not an original idea, credit Karl for that one, Karl Marx that is. trump isn’t getting my vote it was just easier to bust hil on this topic.

        • noheawilli says:

          And I’ll be singing ” I’d rather leave while I’m in love” as I know what Liberty is, and it’s not here.

  4. wrightj says:

    We all need some football after this.

  5. Frankie348 says:

    I’m sure Star advertiser still will find something to nick pick Tulsi about while finding nothing but gold and praise about hanabusa and Schatz.

  6. poipoo says:

    Tulsi’s strong national profile is a good thing for Hawaii–people respect and listen to her which makes her more effective in Congress where everything comes down to relationships. Obviously you can’t have a relationship with people if they don’t even know who you are! Her clout helped her pass legislation which is exactly what we in Hawaii wants from our legislators. Just off the top of my head, she passed Talia’s law and the Native Hawaii educational reauthorization act in this past session, and helped veterans on the Big Island with their VA loans and Hawaii’s farmers combat the coffee borer and other invasive species.

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