Hanabusa was considered vying for the U.S. Senate seat being left open by the retirement of U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka. She acknowledged that today in an email to supporters: “I think you know that I have been weighing a difficult decision. The announcement by Senator Akaka that he will retire from his seat in the U.S. Senate presents an unusual opportunity to serve the people of Hawai’i, one that has existed only three times since we became a state over fifty years ago.”
Hanabusa said she has “heard every voice and considered every opinion” offering advice on which office she should run for, but has determined that she “can best serve Hawaii” in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The challenges that confront our nation are many, and the risks to Hawaii are great. At this moment, stability in Hawai’i’s Congressional representation is critical. I believe that a change in both Hawai’i seats in the U.S. House, along with a seat in the U.S. Senate, could seriously undermine our efforts to continue vital funding for the military in Hawai’i and preserve such cherished programs as the East West Center, while threatening other federal support that has helped keep our economy moving in these difficult times,” Hanabusa said. “This decision is an opportunity, not a sacrifice. I love my job. I hope the voters of the First Congressional District will send me back to Washington and allow me to continue serving them.”
Last week, former Congressman Charles Djou, R-HI, who served in office for 6 months after winning the House seat in a three-way special election, announced plans to challenge Hanabusa again. This will be his third time running against her, should they both win their primaries.
Djou won round one and Hanabusa won round two, but the third match up is expected to be especially challenging for Djou. Hawaii Democrats typically turn out to support President Barack Obama and other Democratic presidential candidates in the general election. In 2010, without a presidential election in play, Djou lost by 6 percentage points or 10,000 votes.
In 2010, Hawaii’s most senior Senator, Daniel Inouye, campaigned for Hanabusa, first against her Democratic challenger, former Congressman Ed Case, and then against GOP Challenger Djou. Inouye is expected to help Hanabusa again. Several outside funding groups also got involved in the Hawaii race on both sides.
While Djou had financial and campaign support from conservatives in 2010, their backing already is waning for this election.
In his announcement last week, Djou emphasized that he is a “centrist”, cited reports that say he is one of the most moderate members of the House, and he distanced himself from the Tea Party movement.
He also made a surprise announcement. Djou, a JAG officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, said last week he is being deployed to Afghanistan after Labor Day to help train law enforcement officers there. He’ll rely on his fundraising team and campaign manager to handle his campaign while he is away for what is expected to be a 7 month deployment.
Today, Djou issued a statement saying: “I wish Colleen the best as she continues to serve the people of Hawaii in the U.S. House. I look forward to engaging her in a real debate about what’s best for Hawaii, and the United States. I’m confident that my campaign will provide the voters of Hawaii with a real choice next fall as we continue the conversation about how we get the economy moving again and put our people back to work.”