By Derrick DePledge
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa has been named one of Politico's "50 Politicos to Watch."
Hanabusa, the former state Senate president now in her second term representing urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District, is challenging U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary for Senate.
Hanabusa is one of three Senate challengers to make the list, joining U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who is running for an open Senate seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.; and House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican vying to take on U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C.
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) was passed over in December for an appointment to replace the late Sen. Daniel Inouye. Instead, Gov. Neil Abercrombie tapped his lieutenant governor, Brian Schatz, for the seat.
But that was far from the last word. Hanabusa is challenging Schatz in what could be one of the most-watched Democratic primaries of 2014.
That drama of Inouye’s succession — he had sent a letter to Abercrombie shortly before his death urging the governor to appoint Hanabusa — made headlines both in Hawaii and nationally and gave Hanabusa an opening to seek the Senate seat herself.
Hanabusa says that since Schatz hasn’t yet been elected or reelected to the seat, running against him is a way to “give people choices,” she said.
“This is the first time the people are going to be able to vote for who they feel should fill that Senate seat,” she said. “So the people have the opportunity to choose, and I’m putting myself out there because I believe the majority of people out there want me.