Former Gov. Ben Cayetano has thrown his support behind state Sen. Kai Kahele’s bid to win the congressional seat held by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, joining former Govs. Neil Abercrombie and John Waihee who said last month that they were supporting Kahele.
The three former governors will also serve as honorary co-chairs of the Kahele for Congress campaign committee, according to a press release issued by Kahele’s campaign today.
Kahele, who has represented Hilo in the state Senate since 2016, is holding a fundraiser tonight for his congressional campaign at the Pacific Club in Honolulu and has another one planned for March 28 in Hilo.
Gabbard, who announced in January that she is running for president, hasn’t indicated whether she plans to run for re-election next year. However, she can simultaneously run in both the presidential and congressional primaries, according to Hawaii’s Office of Elections.
Kahele “serves his community, his state and his country in uniform,” Cayetano said in a press release. “He’s mature but also young enough to build seniority in Congress. Given how small a congressional delegation Hawaiʻi has, that’s very important.”
This would be the first major challenger for Gabbard who has enjoyed high favorability ratings since she was elected to Congress in 2012.