Possible Hanabusa-Schatz race sends ripple effect statewide
Sources close to the Colleen Hanabusa campaign say the candidate will run against Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.
The race would set up Hanabusa, the late Sen. Daniel Inouye's choice to succeed him, versus the former lieutenant governor Schatz, who Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed instead.
The candidate who wins the general election would serve the remaining two years of Inouye's term.
"In the true Democratic fashion, here we go again," said Dante Carpenter, chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawai'i. "Everybody is allowed to make their own decision depending on how they feel they can best contribute to helping the people of Hawaii."
Political analysts say the move could spur others to toss their hat in the ring.
"I think that's what's interesting here is not that you can pick out a definite candidate but that it creates an opportunity for a lot of candidates to step in," said political analyst Neal Milner.
State Republicans see it as a plus for them in races statewide.
"I think a lot of people are going to be running, not just Republicans, but Democrat side as well," said Hawai'i Republican Party Chair David Chang.
Contenders for either seat being mentioned: Ed Case, who we did not hear back from and former governor Linda Lingle. When asked if she had an inkling of any seat she might run for, she simply said, "No."
The Hawai'i Republican Party says it believes it has solid contenders, especially for Hanabusa's current seat in the U.S. House.
"We had Charles Djou have this seat years ago. He did run last year and it was close enough given that President Obama was on top of the ticket," said Chang. "I think he would make an excellent candidate and I think he is a frontrunner to a certain degree to go back after his own seat."
When asked if there is any fear of losing the House seat to a Republican, Carpenter answered, "I always have that fear and I don't think there's any question it becomes a very heavy concern. It essentially was one of the concerns, as I recall, when the governor selected the lieutenant governor to take over."
When asked if he feels a Hanabusa-Schatz matchup will be a dividing factor for the party, Carpenter said there is no question about it. Democrats will be split between their allegiances. As he puts it, that's the way it has always been and always will be.
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