Rep. Patricia Saiki (R-Hawaii) announced yesterday she will run for the Senate, challenging her former House colleague, Daniel K. Akaka (D), who was sworn in last week to fill the seat vacated by the death of Sen. Spark M. Matsunaga (D) until the Nov. 6 election.
"Hawaii needs a senator who can make the people on Pennsylvania Avenue and Constitution Avenue understand the people on Kamehameha Avenue," Saika said in Hilo, Hawaii. "My opponent is a cordial gentleman. But this is a Senate race, and the stakes are far greater than personality. I offer an independent vote for Hawaii and . . . a respected voice that can be heard in the Oval Office."
Republicans are thrilled at Saiki's entry into the race because they believe she improves the party's chances of taking control of the Senate next year. "This race immediately becomes a key race and one of the most competitive," said Wendy DeMocker of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Saiki, who was urged by President Bush to run, is tied with Akaka in a public poll released yesterday.
Saiki was elected to the House in 1986 to represent Honolulu. A popular and aggressive politician, she is the only Republican in the state's four-member congressional delegation. She supports abortion rights and has compiled a moderate voting record, focusing on constituent needs.