Freshman state Rep. Patrick Pihana Branco announced his candidacy to replace freshman U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele in what could be a crowded race to represent Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District that covers the neighbor islands and rural Oahu.
“I believe our state, nation, and world are at a crossroads,” Branco said in a statement. “The ever-rising cost of living is pricing families out of Hawaii, and the clearly present effects of the climate crisis are threatening our health and way of life. Our democratic institutions are under threat while Russia and China threaten the delicate American-led global security order. It will take someone with a unique background, experience, and set of relationships to go to Washington DC and deliver for Hawaii. As a former diplomat and current State Representative, I possess the qualifications necessary to be that leader for Hawaii”
Speculation has swirled around Kahele’s political future after serving just over a year in Congress.
Taking a subtle swipe at Kahele, Branco said in his statement that “Hawaii is best served by its federal delegation when its members dedicate themselves to long-term service to our state in Washington, DC. The next Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd District needs to be fully dedicated to the years-long task of building the seniority and relationships necessary to deliver needed federal resources back to our state. I pledge to the people of Hawaii’s 2nd District that, if elected, I will dutifully serve as a member of our state’s federal delegation and deliver for Hawaii for the years to come.”
Born and raised in Kailua, Branco was elected to the House in 2020, representing Kailua and Kaneohe.
He joined the U.S. Foreign Service as a diplomat in 2012 and served in Colombia, Pakistan, the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Secretary of State’s Operations Center, and Venezuela.
He said he’s running for Congress “to lower the ever-rising cost of living that’s pricing families out of Hawaii, enact federal solutions to the climate crisis that’s threatening the health and way of life of Hawaii’s people, and bring needed federal resources back to Hawaii.”