Progressive news site Daily Kos announced Thursday that the group is endorsing Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardProgressives breathe sigh of relief after Afghan withdrawal Hillicon Valley: US has made progress on cyber but more needed, report says | Democrat urges changes for 'problematic' crypto language in infrastructure bill | Facebook may be forced to unwind Giphy acquisition YouTube rival Rumble strikes deals with Tulsi Gabbard, Glenn Greenwald MORE’s (D-Hawaii) primary challenger in Hawaii’s 2nd District.
Daily Kos is backing state Sen. Kai Kahele, who announced his primary campaign earlier this week to take on Gabbard, who’s seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
Daily Kos called Kahele, a veteran who served in the Hawaii Air National Guard and who is also a civilian pilot, a “solid progressive” and criticized Gabbard as “at odds” with the Democratic Party.
“[Kahele] presents a stark contrast to Gabbard’s problematic history on abortion rights, her support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and her refusal to join her Democratic colleagues in the House in backing progressive priorities like an assault weapons ban.”
Gabbard attracted criticism from both sides of the aisle for meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2017. Gabbard recently said in an interview that she has no regrets about that meeting.
The congresswoman has also faced scrutiny over her previous stances on gay rights. Gabbard previously worked for an anti-LGBTQ organization run by her father and opposed the expansion of LGBTQ rights during her time in the Hawaii state legislature.
Gabbard issued a lengthy apology last week for her past comments and stances on LGBTQ issues.
Kahele announced his intention to challenge Gabbard on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and mentioned the late civil rights leader in his speech, according to The Honolulu Star Advertiser.
“We need dedicated leadership and an aspirational vision,” Kahele said in his Monday speech. “We need elected leaders working together, leaders who put the common interests of Hawaiiʻs people ahead of their own.”
Kahele was appointed by the governor to fill the state Senate seat of his late father in February 2016 and won a full term later that year.
Gabbard, who was first elected in 2012 as the first Hindu member of Congress, hasn’t confirmed if she’ll also seek reelection in 2020 to her deep-blue seat if she doesn’t win the presidential nomination.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Gabbard recently told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I haven’t heard from Sen. Kahele, but whatever he decides to do, I wish him well.”
When asked if she’s concerned about a primary challenger, Gabbard said she’s “not thinking about politics right now.”
Gabbard has previously faced primary challenges in past elections, but refused to debate them and easily won those primaries.
Markos Moulitsas, the founder of Daily Kos, has been critical of Gabbard, recently tweeting about Gabbard jumping into the 2020 presidential race.