HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The two leading Democrats in the crowded Congressional District 1 race are tied at 28 percent in our new Hawaii News Now/Star Advertiser Hawaii Poll.
In a huge swing from our poll 6 months ago, Mark Takai picked up points, while Donna Mercado Kim lost ground.
In the February poll, State Senate President Donna Mercado Kim had a ten point lead over her closest competitor, State Representative Mark Takai.
Kim told Hawaii News Now, "Being the front runner from the get go according to the polls did put a target on our back."
But of polls she added, "It'll switch and change. We always felt at the end of the day it would be a close race and it's shaping up to be that way."
Takai said of the new poll numbers, "The polls show the momentum is clearly on our side. We've been working hard the last few weeks. It feels really good."
Hawaii News Now Political Analyst Colin Moore said this of Takai's momentum, "He's really picked up a bunch of support since the February poll. You want to be the person whose support is increasing as you go into the election. I think you see that with Mark Takai."
Takai says of his strategy to boost his profile and stand on issues, "We think name recognition is increasing and as a result more people are supporting us."
Kim entered the crowded race with the highest name recognition. She led lawmakers' investigation into the infamous UH Stevie Wonder blunder and is one of only four Senators to vote no on the same sex marriage bill.
Kim says of her record in the Legislature, "I'm a fighter and I've been at the forefront of a lot of issues, controversial issues."
Both candidates anticipated a nail biter and will ramp up efforts to get out the vote. In this race in particular, "every vote counts" is more than a campaign cliche.
Kim has been down this road before. She recalls her first campaign, saying, "My very first race I won by 29 votes. I was losing all night so I have a history of being the underdog."
Takai is not resting on his laurels either, saying "We're not going to let up at this point. I mean it's tied right according to your poll. We've seen others that have us ahead. Everything points to momentum is moving in our way."
The winner of the Democratic primary will likely face Republican Charles Djou in the general election.
The former Congressman makes the case that he would enter the majority party, with seniority.
Hawaii Poll Tables: Click for a breakdown of the Congressional District 1 numbers: