HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly 700 delegates were in attendance for the first day of the Hawaii Democratic Party's state convention Saturday.
The two-day gathering comes at a time when there are a lot of candidates running in the primary election.
Those candidates include Brian Schatz and Colleen Hanabusa for a U.S. Senate seat. It continues a change triggered with the December 2012 death of Sen. Dan Inouye and the retirement of Sen. Daniel Akaka. Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed then-Lt. Gov. Schatz to succeed Inouye.
"My view is the best way we can move forward is to carry on his legacy in terms of looking out for the little guy. That's what he was all about, and that's what the Democratic Party is all about," said Schatz.
"This is the first time that the people of Hawaii have actually a say in who should succeed and serve out the remaining term of Senator Inouye, because that's exactly what we're doing here," said Hanabusa, who currently represents Hawaii's 1st Congressional District.
The large field of candidates running for Hanabusa's open seat isn't unusual, either. When now U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono ran for Congress in 2006, she faced nine Democratic challengers.
This year's primary will also feature a highly-publicized matchup between Gov. Abercrombie and state Sen. David Ige.
"You go all the way back to statehood, and actually pre-statehood when it came out of the territory. There's always been races in the Democratic party," said Abercrombie.
"As you know it was a battle to get here, but I'm glad that cooler heads prevailed, and more importantly, I think every candidate will have a chance to address the convention," said Ige.
Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, appointed by Abercrombie to replace Schatz, also faces a recently-mounted challenge from state Sen. Clayton Hee. Hee and Ige will get a chance to address delegates Sunday at the Sheraton Waikiki.