Takai supports Hanabusa to take over congressional seat


At Sunday’s gathering of the Democratic Party of Hawaii State Convention, U.S. Representative Mark Takai said he would want former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa to take over his seat after vacating it as he battles pancreatic cancer.

In a statement read by campaign manager Dylan Beesley, Takai said “although I will not be seeking re-election this fall, there is still much work that I am determined to see through for Hawaii and our nation during the remainder of my term in Congress. I intend to do all I can to elect a progressive champion to represent Hawaii in Congress – someone like Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa – who can deliver resources and results for Hawaii.”

It was the big news Sunday as the two-day convention wrapped up at the Sheraton Waikiki.

On Saturday, KHON2 spoke with Colleen Hanabusa, herself a U.S. Representative who served Hawaii for four years from 2011-15. She has pulled nomination papers for Takai’s Congressional District 1 seat.

Asked if she will run, she said “It’s not official — hopefully sometime right after the holiday.”

So far, 11 Democrats have pulled nomination papers for Takai’s seat before the June 7 deadline.

Only one of them, Bernie Sanders’ supporter Javier Ocasio, officially filed back in February. “It has been really challenging, because everyone favors the incumbent,” he said, “and unless you have any name recognition or made history it’s difficult to get up there.”

“I think that (Takai) will also expect us to make sure that we ensure that a Democrat is elected to his seat,” said DNC committee woman Jadine Nielsen.

In between the speeches, campaiging and voting, Democrats were also focused on who will be the next state party chair. Stephanie Ohigashi has already served a two-year term. Candidates for that position are Jacce Mikulanec, Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, Florence Kong Kee and Tim Vandeveer.

In light of Hawaii Democrats overwhelmingly supporting Sanders back in the March caucus, Ohigashi was asked whether the party will support either Sanders or Hillary Clinton at the national convention in July in Philadelphia.

“I can’t speak for the newly elected party chair, but I’m going to tell you, like Governor Ige says, we are a party of inclusion and we heard loud and clear where the Democrats were March 26, and I think it’s going to be a combined team of unity when they go to Philadelphia.”

The primary election is Aug. 13.

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