HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "We are recommending Senate President Colleen Hanabusa for the First Congressional District for the special election," Wil Okabe said.
The announcement by the president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association carries the weight of a sizeable organization.
Okabe said if Hanabusa's elected to Congress, she'll fight for public schools, maintain an open-door policy, and speak her mind.
"She will tell you how it is. We might not agree with her on every single issue. But she's going to let you know how she feels about things," he said.
"I think it's a great boost," Hanabusa said. "But remember it's not only the special election, it's also the primary."
HSTA chose Hanabusa over Democratic rival Ed Case.
He said the endorsement doesn't mean all Hawaii's teachers will follow their union's recommendation.
"The members are far more independent than they ever have been in the past. They take a look at the endorsement and they make their own decision," Case said..
Republican challenger Charles Djou was the lone major player in the race not interviewed by the teacher's union.
"The Hawaii State Teachers Association is their own special interest group. They can make their own decision. They have their own priorities. My priority is the taxpayers and the families of Hawaii," he said.
The candidates are vying for the seat vacated by former US Representative Neil Abercrombie, who resigned to run for governor.
HSTA's endorsement comes with about two months left until the mail-in special election in May.
The union represents 13,000 public school teachers.