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State legislators eyeing Hanabusa’s congressional seat

Nanea Kalani
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Rep. Kaniela Ing (D, South Maui), left, and Rep. Beth Fukumoto (D, Mililani-­Mililani Mauka-Waipio Acres).

Two months after U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa announced her plans to run for governor, candidates looking to fill her seat in Congress are starting to emerge.

State Rep. Kaniela Ing (D, South Maui) on Monday formally announced his bid for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District, representing urban Honolulu.

Ing, 28, describes himself as a progressive and says he wants to stand up to “big-money corruption.”

“I am running for Congress because Hawaii’s working families are being left behind and need a representative who understands today’s struggle of paying for college, buying a home and raising a family,” he said in prepared remarks at a news conference in Manoa.

“Standing up to Donald Trump and the GOP is important, but it’s not enough,” he added. “Our leaders must be willing to stand up to big-money special interests and offer a positive vision of progress beyond resistance.”

Ing was first elected to the state House seat representing South Maui in 2012 at age 23. He serves as majority policy leader in the House and as chairman of the Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs Committee.

“I am running a grass-roots campaign to put people before profits, keep Hawaii Hawaii, and offer a new generation of progressive leadership,” Ing said in a statement. “I am uniquely positioned as a young person, with decades ahead of me, to build the seniority and influence Hawaii needs.”

Meanwhile, state Rep. Beth Fukumoto (D, Mililani-­Mililani Mauka-Waipio Acres) is also eyeing Hana­busa’s seat.

Fukumoto, 34, said last week she is “exploring a potential run,” adding that she will review polling data and discuss the possibility with her community and supporters before making a final decision.

The former Republican left the GOP earlier this year amid growing tensions over her criticism of President Trump. Fukumoto, who had been ousted as minority leader by her Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives, was accepted into the Democratic Party in June.

Referencing attacks on women’s health care and instances of sexual harassment, she said in an email to supporters, “It has become clear that women will face constant threats to our health and our livelihoods until we achieve economic and political parity.”

Fukumoto said that “over 80 percent of congressional seats are held by men, and a similar disparity exists in state legislatures,” adding: “We need more women in government, and I’m working hard to make that happen. … Regardless of the position I hold, my focus will be on reducing the cost of living for Hawaii’s working families so that our local residents — particularly our young people — can afford to stay and live in this place we call home.”

There are three qualifications under the U.S. Constitution for members of the U.S. House Representatives: age (at least 25), citizenship (at least seven years as a U.S. citizen) and inhabitancy (living in the state they represent).

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