Hanabusa won’t challenge outcome of Hawaii U.S. Senate primary

August 20, 2014

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (Hawaii) said Tuesday that she will not challenge the results of the Democratic U.S. Senate primary she lost last week to Sen. Brian Schatz .

Hawaiian Democrats Sen. Brian Schatz, left, and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.  (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

In a statement, Hanabusa, who objected to holding a vote in two precincts so soon after Tropical Storm Iselle, said that while she won't legally contest the outcome, she has concerns about "disenfranchised" voters.

"I ask former colleagues and friends in the Hawaii State Legislature to explore what is necessary to ensure the people that their vote truly counts," she said in a statement. "I heard from many who feel strongly that they were disenfranchised from the voting process this election, and I stand ready to support any collaborative effort to have those voices heard."

Hanabusa lost to Schatz by fewer than 1,800 votes in what was the most significant Democratic primary in the state in a generation. The race was decided nearly a week after the Aug. 9 primary because storm damage delayed voting in two Big Island precincts in Puna.

Hanabusa argued those precincts were still recovering from the storm and tried to delay the Aug. 15 makeup vote. But a judge rejected her request.

Meanwhile, a batch of about 800 untallied absentee ballots were discovered in Maui on the day of the makeup vote on the Big Island.

Schatz padded his narrow primary day lead of about 1,600 votes in the two Punsa precincts, winning by 1,769 overall.

Hanabusa was a protege of the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D), who was beloved in Hawaii. Inouye wanted Hanabusa to replace him after his death. Instead, Gov. Neil Abercomrbie (D) tapped Schatz, then his lieutenant governor. Hanabusa entered the race a few months later, setting off a deeply personal campaign.

"This election has been extraordinary from beginning to end. It took heart, teamwork and a belief that together we are making a real difference for our state and our country," Schatz said in a statement issued after Hanabusa announced she would not file a challenge." I want to congratulate Congresswoman Hanabusa on waging a spirited and tough battle. Now it is time for us to unite as we move forward to the general election.

Schatz is heavily favored to defeat Republican nominee Cam Cavasso in the November Senate race.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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