By Derrick DePledge
A new Hawaii Poll taken for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now asked voters to rate 16 politicians who are candidates or potential candidates for office this year.
The most popular? U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
The freshman Democrat had a favorable rating of 76 percent. Even 61 percent of Republicans view her favorably.
Gabbard has had a remarkable national profile since she was elected to Congress in 2012. Some local political observers have been privately baffled by all the attention she has received, given her thin political resume, but she has made the most of her opportunity in the spotlight.
The congresswoman has also been fortunate, so far, not to face a competitive challenger. The Republicans fielded a homeless handyman against Gabbard in 2012, and the GOP candidate who has stepped forward this year recently threatened to choke out the state schools superintendent at a school board meeting.
"She's more popular than kittens," one local Democrat said of Gabbard.