Mazie Hirono

Congress Member Mazie Hirono, D-HI-1, added her name today to what may be a crowded race for U.S. Senate. She will be vying for the seat that U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka has held for three decades.

Akaka, 86, announced his retirement from politics earlier this year after Hawaii’s Senior Senator, Daniel Inouye, said he was not going to be able to help Akaka fund raise $3 million for his next 6-year Senatorial campaign.

Hirono served as Hawaii’s lieutenant governor under Gov. Benjamin Cayetano for 8 years until 2002. She lost the governor’s election that year to Republican Linda Lingle, and was out of politics until she replaced Ed Case in Congress in 2007 after he unsuccessfully challenged Akaka for the Senate seat.

Ed Case is the first Democrat to announce he will run for the open U.S. Senate seat and Hirono is the second.

Reached by phone while on vacation in Italy, Case, a former Blue Dog Democrat in the U.S. House, said he welcomes Hirono to the race. He said voters will have a choice on election day between at least two very different candidates. Political analysts note that Hirono is not known for her independence and instead is considered a “loyal foot soldier” to the very left of her party.

No Republican has entered the race yet, but former Gov. Linda Lingle or former Congressman Charles Djou may run for U.S. Senate or for the U.. House.

Hirono said in a letter to her supporters today: “I’ve heard from so many people across our great state — and longtime supporters like you — encouraging me to run for his open seat. Thoughts and well-wishes have come from every island: I’m humbled and inspired by the support I’ve received from Hawaii families. So inspired that today, I am announcing my candidacy for United States Senate. We’ve fought some tough fights together in Congress. And, together, we’ll keep fighting for Hawaii in the U.S. Senate.”

She added: “While I’m the candidate in this race, this will always be your campaign. I’ve never sought public office just to hear the sound of my own voice. I’m running for Senate so that my voice can continue to be your voice. We’ll win this race the way we’ve won in the past — by making this campaign by, of, and for the people of Hawaii, not the insiders and special interests.”