Hawaii’s congressional race will be more competitive now that Gabbard is out

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Now that Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has announced she won’t seek re-election next year, it’s opened the door for a competitive race for her 2nd congressional district seat.

“It’s an interesting move,” said Dr. John Hart, a political analyst. “She had a safe seat, I don’t buy the scenario that she was going to lose. She was going to have a race this time, but she wasn’t going to lose.”

He said staying in her congressional seat would give her “higher visibility” if she chose to run for another seat like the senate.

Dr. Hart said Gabbard is currently at about 2% in the presidential race.

“She probably will not qualify for the next debate, even with the publicity Hilary Clinton just gave her,” he said.

KHON2 spoke with Rep. Gabbard about her decision on Friday morning.

“I’m committed to doing my best to be of service where I feel like I can do the most good and given the challenges we face both in Hawaii, and across our country, and in the world, I believe I can best be of service as President and Commander in Chief,” she said.

She said she wanted to make the announcement now so Hawaii can have more choices when it comes to filling her seat.

“So far it’s just Sen. Kai Kahele from the Big Island. Now, a lot of people are going to run,” said Dr. Hart.

“Is it going to be a former congresswoman? Former people in the Hawaii Senate, former people in the Hawaii congress? We’ll have to see.”

Sen. Kahele, who made his announcement for Congress in January, said he’s pleased with where his campaign stands.

“I’m not jumping into the race now because of political convenience. You can’t just parachute into the 2nd congressional district overnight. It takes a lot of time and effort to campaign statewide across the eight Hawaiian Islands, that’s what we’ve been doing for the past 10 months.”

While experts don’t see Rep. Gabbard in the next presidential debate, they say she could be moving on to other things.

“It’s an interesting move, what’s in her future? Maybe a cabinet position, the VA, the ambassadorship to India possibly,” Dr. Hart said.

“What we do know is that she doesn’t stay in one place very long and she goes upward constantly, she’s not afraid of the long ball. She’ll throw it, she’s throwing it now, where to? Nobody knows.”

Former state senator and Lt. Gov. Candidate Jill Tokuda could be one of the possible CD2 candidates.

Her campaign told KHON2 that she’s “exploring her options and will certainly give it great thought but she’s not ready to make a decision yet.”

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