Hanabusa, Schatz launch political fireworks at U.S. Senate debate

By Yunji de Nies
Published On: Jul 08 2014 07:01:00 PM HST

Things heated up between Representative Colleen Hanabusa and Senator Brian Schatz at the KITV4 US Senate debate . Find out what our expert is saying as they break down the debate.

HONOLULU -

There were political fireworks at KITV4 Monday night between the democrats hoping to be Hawaii's next United States Senator.

Click here to watch Yunji de Nies' story.

Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa went head to head for a full hour and one of those exchanges caught the attention of a lot of our viewers.

It was the moment in the debate, when the candidates were asked to be complimentary, what has the opponent done to positively impact Hawaii?

"I think one of the things she did well was convene the Felix Consent Decree special investigative committee that proved to be useful for state government in terms of getting our arms around spending. That was a little out of control," said Schatz.
"The one thing I admire about Brian is he is a survivor. He ran for Congress and he managed to come back as the head of the Democratic Party. Then he won as Lt. Governor and then he convinced Neil Abercrombie that he should be appointed to the U.S. Senate," said Hanabusa. "That's an amazing feat. One vote created somebody as the Unites State Senator for the State of Hawaii. That is something you gotta admire."

KITV4 political analyst Neil Milner called Hanabusa's sharp response a left-handed compliment.

"I mean a survivor? In the Democratic Party here? What's that mean?" said Milner.

So, what do the candidates take from Monday night's debate moving forward? What changes, if any, do they make as they head into the final month of campaigning?

Milner says Schatz has more flexibility because he has a bigger campaign war chest. Federal records show he has raised about $4 million to Hanabusa's $2 million.

"First of all, they can do more with the traditional kinds of ads or even the non-traditional kinds of ads. The second thing is that he may be able to do better. This is harder to read, but more sophisticated targeting of certain kinds of voters," said Milner.

For Hanabusa the message has to be clear.

"I think what she says is I'm smarter than he is. He feels more entitled to it than I am. I have more serious political experience. I'm overall a better king of person to do the work that needs to be done," said Milner.

KITV4 will host a live debate in the democratic primary race for Rep. Hanabusa's District 1 seat.

Seven democrats will square off on July 23 at 8 p.m.

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