Hanabusa will challenge Schatz in Hawaii Senate primary

April 23, 2013

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) will challenge appointed Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) in a primary next year, according to someone with knowledge of her plans.

Hanabusa had been trying to decide in recent days between running against Schatz and challenging Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) in 2014. As Post Politics reported Friday, she met with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Thursday, but the committee said this week that it will back Schatz.

Abercrombie appointed Schatz, who was then his lieutenant governor, to the Senate in December, even as the late-Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) made it known that he wanted Hanabusa appointed to succeed him.

The matchup would mark the second time in eight years that a member of Hawaii's House delegation has challenged an incumbent senator. In 2006, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) defeated Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) 55 percent to 45 percent.

The news of Hanabusa running against Schatz was first reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The person with knowledge of Hanabusa's plans requested anonymity because they were not authorized to officially announce her candidacy. Hanabusa's office has not responded to a request for comment.

Emily's List, a powerful pro-Democratic women's group, is very supportive of Hanabusa but has not formally endorsed her. The congresswoman has yet to announce a bid.

"The 2012 election was a mandate for women’s leadership and Colleen Hanabusa has a proven track record of putting the women and families of Hawaii first," spokeswoman Marcy Stech said. "The EMILY's List community would be thrilled to support another progressive woman leader from Hawaii in the U.S. Senate."

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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