After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her support for an impeachment inquiry yesterday, Hawaii’s congressional delegates signaled their position on the matter. Representative Ed Case and senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono unequivocally supported the inquiry, leaving representative Tulsi Gabbard as Hawaii’s sole source of opposition to impeachment.
“My position remains the same,” Gabbard said on CNN. “I think that impeachment would be terribly divisive for an already divided country.”
For Hilo state senator Kai Kahele, Gabbard’s opposition was his opportunity.
“Holding Donald Trump accountable is not divisive,” Kahele responded on Twitter. “Its [sic] Congress doing its job of upholding the Constitution.”
A decorated air force pilot and former volleyball player at University of Hawaii, Kahele announced his campaign to challenge Gabbard for her seat in congress this past January.
“I have the utmost respect for [Tulsi Gabbard],” Kahele told KHON2 in January, a day after announcing. “I appreciate her friendship. We both served together in the Hawaii National Guard. We’re proud members of our military. I wish her well. She’s made the decision to run for president and I just want to make sure that Hawaii’s well-represented in Washington DC.”
Though they both have similar profiles — both served with the National Guard in Iraq, and both are children of former state senators — they have differed in their stances regarding President Trump. Kahele distanced himself from Gabbard in March amid the Mueller Report controversy.
In a June interview with VICE News, Kahele said, “It’s a different Hawaii than what she’s used to and I’m a completely different candidate than anything she’s ever faced. If she did not run for president, I would not have announced I was running against her. But I knew that when she did that, that would be a game changer because it would be impossible for her to fight fires nationally and locally. I knew that it would completely take her out of the district for at least a year.”
Hawaii’s resign-to-run law prevents Gabbard from running for president and congress at the same time, but she has until June 2020 to formally choose one over the other. In the meantime, this difference on the impeachment inquiry stands as the starkest contrast yet between both candidates.