HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 50th state brings a bit of aloha to American politics on day one of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Not only is our local delegation front and center in the convention hall, Congressional candidate, Tulsi Gabbard, spoke before a national audience.
Tuesday marked, perhaps, the biggest one minute 33 seconds of Gabbard's political career. The Congressional district two candidate took the stage along with some democratic heavy-hitters, and Politico.com even named her as "one to watch".
31 year old Gabbard's meteoric rise from virtual unknown in Hawaii just months ago - to now, the national spotlight - may be reminiscent of a certain other politician named Barack Obama. At the convention, she talked about military servicemembers and particularly, women in uniform.
"As a combat veteran, I know the costs of war," she said to a packed convention crowd. "The sacrifices made by our troops and military families are immeasurable."
For Democrats, she couldn't fit the bill any better: a young, female, war veteran, attractive, Pacific Islander - with experience in Washington - on track to becoming the first Hindu-American on Capitol Hill.
It's an improbable position considering she most recently served as Honolulu city councilwoman dealing with issues like sidewalk access and food trucks. As recently as six months ago, 40% of respondents in a Hawaii News Now poll said they'd never even heard of Gabbard. And even though she's still a candidate, political insiders say she's a shoe-in for Congress.
"Only death or major scandal can stop her from being elected to the second district. They have a homeless man, the Republicans have a homeless person running against her. And he doesn't look like he's going to have money or much support," explains political analyst, Dan Boylan.
Hawaii News Now was in Kailua as a group of Tulsi supporters, including her proud parents, cheered her on.
Mike Gabbard choked up as he thought of his daughter carrying on Senator Daniel Akaka's legacy of kindness in Congress. " … that the nation becomes aware of what the actual meaning of aloha is. We see that in our daughter."
I asked Gabbard's mom, Carol, "Did mom give her any advice for the speech?" She answered with a laugh, "Uh, no. She's past my advice now!"
Gabbard says she wrote the speech herself, and Governor Neil Abercrombie told Hawaii News Now that he is "very, very proud of her".
The national spotlight continued before and after Gabbard's speech - with interviews on both CNN and Fox News.