Primary showdown set in Hawaii

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) officially launched her bid for Senate on Thursday, setting up a primary challenge against incumbent Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

"I've made no secret of the fact that I have been considering my options for 2014. While it has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of the First Congressional District and I have always done so to the best of my ability, I believe that I can do more to serve our state," she said in a statement.

A source close to the congresswoman told The Hill last week that Hanabusa was planning to run for the seat vacated when Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) died late last year.

ADVERTISEMENT
Inouye’s dying wish was for Hanabusa to take his place in the Senate, but Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) instead chose Schatz, who was then his lieutenant governor.

She had been considering a gubernatorial bid as well, initially unable to decide whether her anger at Abercrombie for appointing Schatz outweighed her preference for legislating over an executive position.

But the source close to Hanabusa said that she also feels strongly about fulfilling Inouye's wish to see her in the Senate.

Despite the rift within the party, Hanabusa said she plans to focus on policy and her legislative experience in the Hawaiian state Senate and Congress. 

"This race will not be about personalities. It will be about service, experience, and effectiveness. I look forward to the campaign, and to continuing to represent Hawaii’s voice and values in Washington," she said.

Hanabusa is better known in the state and counts labor as a powerful ally.

But Schatz has the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and has already raised $1.1 million during his first fundraising quarter in office, while Hanabusa brought in $230,000. 

His campaign issued a statement welcoming Hanabusa to the race and touting Schatz's experience during his short time in the Senate.

"As someone who grew up in Hawaii and today is raising his own family here, Senator Schatz is deeply invested in our state's future. In his first few months in the Senate, he has forged meaningful relationships, leveraged his budding Senate seniority, advanced legislation, and fought for initiatives that will positively impact Hawaii and the people of our state," campaign spokesman Bill Meheula said.