Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard (D) announced Thursday she is running for Hawaii’s open 2nd district seat, which Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) is vacating to run for Senate.
“I have a sincere desire to be of service to all the people of Hawai’i, and I'm confident that I will serve you well,” Gabbard said in a press release. “I have the experience, the energy, and the determination to fight for you, our beautiful Hawai’i, and our great country. I would be honored if you would allow me to serve you in Washington.”
The district is solidly Democratic and will be even more challenging for a Republican with Hawaiian-born President Barack Obama at the top of the ticket in 2012. Gabbard’s toughest test will likely come in the Democratic primary.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported several Democrats are interested in running, including former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, former state Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser and state Sens. Josh Green and Clayton Hee. The newspaper also reported that former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona (R) is looking at the race as well.
Gabbard is an Iraq war veteran and former state representative. She was elected to the state House in 2002 at the age of 21. She was the youngest female state Representative ever elected in the United States.
After enlisting in the Hawaii Army National Guard in 2003, a year later she volunteered to deploy to Iraq with the 29th Brigade Combat Team and withdrew her candidacy for re-election. She was elected to the city council last year.
Gabbard also spent two years on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant to Sen. Daniel Akaka (D), whose retirement prompted Hirono to run for Senate.
Her father is state Sen. Mike Gabbard, who as a Republican Honolulu city councilman lost the 2004 2nd district race against then-Rep. Ed Case (D).