Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye faces re-election in 2004. He is expected to easily win his bid for his eighth term. Inouye has served in Congress since Hawaii became a state in 1959 and is the third most senior member of the U.S. Senate, behind Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts. Inouye is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress.
Rep. Ed Case, a moderate Democrat, is seeking a second two-year term from the 2nd District. Case won a special election in January 2003 to replace the late Rep. Patsy Mink, who easily won re-election weeks after her death. One of the most liberal members of Congress, Mink died of viral pneumonia.
Case's principal challenger is freshman Honolulu City Council member Mike Gabbard, a Republican who surfaced in the 1990s as a leader in the religious right's campaign to ban gay marriages in the islands.
In 2002, Republican Governor Linda Lingle made history by defeating Democrat Mazie Hirono to become the state's first female governor and first GOP chief executive in four decades.
Hawaii Democratic Party leaders are devoting their efforts to ousting President Bush in November. The 2004 political season is bringing in thousands of new members, infusing the party with a renewed energy and enthusiasm. It's welcome news for Democrats, who have controlled state government and _ until 2002 _ the governor's office, for more than 40 years.