Kahele wins Hawaii House race to replace Gabbard
Hawaii state Sen. Kai Kahele (D) won the election on Tuesday to fill the seat vacated by outgoing Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).
Kahele handily defeated Republican Joe Akana in Hawaii’s heavily Democratic 2nd Congressional District.
The Associated Press called the race early Wednesday with 89 percent of precincts reporting and Kahele winning 64 percent of the vote to Akana’s 30 percent.
Kahele initially announced a primary challenge against Gabbard last year. But Gabbard later announced that she would not seek reelection to the House seat that she has held since 2013 so that she could focus on her ultimately unsuccessful presidential campaign.
Kahele had accused Gabbard of spending too much time campaigning for president and neglecting time with constituents in the district.
Gabbard’s quixotic presidential bid never gained traction and she eventually suspended her campaign in March to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden.
Gabbard had drawn ire from fellow Democrats at times during her tenure for her unorthodox positions, particularly on foreign policy.
In February 2016, Gabbard resigned as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president over the eventual party nominee Hillary Clinton.
Gabbard drew further scorn from her colleagues after voting “present” on the articles of impeachment against Trump in 2019.
Kahele was appointed to the Hawaii state Senate in February 2016 to fill the rest of his late father’s term. He was elected to the seat later that year.
Kahele also serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaii Air National Guard.