Former Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho has endorsed Kai Kahele in his campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives, adding to the list of well-known political figures who have thrown their support behind the state senator for Hilo
Kahele is seeking the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard who announced last month she would not be seeking reelection in 2020 and would instead focus on her bid for the presidency.
The congressional seat represents the neighbor islands and rural Oahu.
Carvalho said in a press release announcing his support for Kahele that Hawaii needs someone who can bring in federal funds to support affordable housing, mitigation measures to address sea-level rise and severe storms and local agriculture.
“From his service to our country as a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard, through his time as a state senator for Hilo, I have great confidence in both his dedication to our island communities and his leadership capacity,” said Carvalho.
Kahele announced in January that he was running for Gabbard’s congressional seat and attracted the support of former Democratic Govs. Ben Cayetano, Neil Abercrombie and John Waihee who all serve as co-chairs of the Kahele for Congress Campaign Committee. Kahele has raised more than $600,000 since launching his campaign.
Former state Rep. Kaniela Ing also announced this month that he is supporting Kahele. Ing ran for the congressional seat currently held by U.S Rep. Ed Case in 2018. While Ing didn’t score many votes in the Democratic primary, he was popular among young progressives receiving the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Both Carvalho and Ing were seen as potential competitors for Kahele after Gabbard announced she wouldn’t be running and the possible field of candidates for the congressional race widened.
So far, no major candidate has announced that they will be joining Kahele in the race for the congressional seat though many names are being batted around in Hawaii’s political circles.