HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa announced in a seven-paragraph letter on her web site that she'll run for the U.S. Senate next year, attaching her name to the Democratic primary that's sure to be a dogfight.
"We need someone in there who can really do the work, who knows the issues, has a leg up on that, a leg up on process, the leg up on actually understanding the procedures and how one can be effective in the congress. I believe that that person is me," she said.
Hanabusa will challenge Sen. Brian Schatz, who holds the seat once held by long term Sen. Daniel Inouye.
Before he died Inouye suggested that Hanabusa replace him. But Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Schatz. She insists her candidacy isn't payback.
"No one disputes how Sen. Inouye loved Hawaii. And no one can dispute the fact that he felt strongly enough to say that he wanted to entrust Hawaii to me," she said.
The Senate seat is a statewide race. Hanabusa anticipates a fair share of union endorsements. She estimates the campaign will cost $3 million and says raising funds is easier when people know you.
"They don't have to agree with you, but they have to feel that they can trust you," she said.
An early survey showed Hanabusa faired favorably against Schatz and against Abercrombie, if she chose to challenge him for governor. She picked the Senate.
"The issue is how to best serve Hawaii and what's the long term impact for Hawaii," she said.
Hanabusa said she will complete her current term in Congress. She feels confident a Democrat will succeed her there. Her Senate announcement comes two days before her birthday. She turns 62 on Saturday.
Sen. Schatz's campaign spokesman Bill Meheula issued the following statement in response to Representative Hanabusa's announcement of her candidacy:
"As someone who grew up in Hawaii and today is raising his own family here, Senator Schatz is deeply invested in our state's future. In his first few months in the Senate, he has forged meaningful relationships, leveraged his budding Senate seniority, advanced legislation, and fought for initiatives that will positively impact Hawaii and the people of our state. Throughout the next 16 months, his service as Senator and his campaign will be about the kind of future we want for our families, our communities, and the next generation. We look forward to sharing the Senator's work and vision for Hawaii, and we welcome Representative Hanabusa to the race."