Hawaii Democratic Chair to run for Lt. Governor - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii Democratic Chair to run for Lt. Governor

Brian Schatz Brian Schatz

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The head of the Democratic party for Hawaii is now throwing his name into the hat for lieutenant governor.

Former state lawmaker Brian Schatz is one of nearly 10 Democrats vying for this crucial seat.

Schatz tells us the high amount of Democrats seeking higher office may be tied to President Barack Obama's rise to the top.

He says now you have a new group of people who are motivated to participate in politics.

After nearly two highly successful years as the chief of Hawaii's Democratic party, Schatz is now eyeing the state's second highest office.

"We feel people are ready for change at the executive level and they want to elect a democrat as governor and lieutenant governor," Schatz said.

Due in part to the Clinton and Obama campaigns, Schatz helped to more than double the number of active party members.

"President Obama's election really motivated people to get involved in the political process, it made people believe they could make a difference in their community and their government," he said.

Schatz says the riff between the Hanabusa and Case congressional campaigns only helps Democrats.

"I think we always have hotly contested primary's and generally speaking, it works in our favor, we saw that with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, we've seen a lot of instances in the state of Hawaii," Schatz said.

Now, Schatz says Democrats are re-energized, like state Senator Robert Bunda. After more than 15 years in the Senate and another 11 in the House, he's now running for lieutenant governor.

"The lesson here is that Democrats have to change in order to survive," Schatz said. Hawaii is a state the generally welcomes progressive values, we're a tolerant place, we understand that our diversity defines us rather than divides us and that has carried us through the decades."

The Democratic party hopes to elect a new chairperson on January 24.

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