HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State Senate president Donna Mercado Kim insists her government experience gives her an advantage in a race for Congress. It will be an expensive leap from the State Senate to the U.S. House.
"Fundraising will begin vigorously for the federal race and I'm looking to raise $1 million, if not more," she said at a press conference announcing her candidacy.
Kim has about $270,000 in state election money. Constituents could help her transfer funds for the federal race, and she has support from a 3,200-member union.
"We'll be boots on the ground. We'll be sign waving. You'll see us all over the place. We'll be part of her campaign to help her to achieve that goal," IBEW Local 1260 business manager Brian Ahakuelo said.
Kim has served on the Honolulu City Council and in both houses of the State legislature during 31 years in public service. She prides herself on being tough on tough issues, but said she can find common ground.
"I've been able to bring people together. I've been able to coalesce to make things happen, to solve problems," she said.
Kim headed the committee that investigated the Stevie Wonder concert fiasco. She is one of four senators who recently voted no on the samesex marriage bill. HPU Communications professor and political analyst John Hart thinks that won't be an issue.
"I think that vote will pretty much split out," he said. "Now the question will be, how do people who aren't invested in that issue vote?"
"Based on my values I have to vote the way I believe," Kim said.
Many consider her the frontrunner for the 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. The race includes State Sen. Will Espero, Rep. K. Mark Takai, city councilmen Ikaika Anderson and Stanley Chang, and Girl's Fest founder and anti-human trafficking advocate Kathryn Xian.
Kim said the nation's budget, ObamaCare, and foreign policy top her list of issues. She said her Kalihi-Palama upbringing gave her a fighting spirit to get things done.
"I will take that to Washington, DC.," she said.
Kim believes she has good name recognition. She will know for sure on election day.
Hawaii News Now first reported on the possibility of a congressional run for Kim exclusively back in September. To read that story, click here: http://bit.ly/18ZS6Ym.