HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa formally launched her campaign for governor Monday and immediately attacked Gov. David Ige's record on homelessness, education and affordable housing.
"At the highest level of state government today, there is a deeply troubling lack of leadership and vision. There is a profound sense that we are adrift and rudderless," she said.
The announcement came four months after Hanabusa made it known she intended to run for the seat in 2018, squaring off against incumbent David Ige.
Political analysts have said Hanabusa's run is bad news for Ige.
"Colleen is a formidable challenger and I think she may be the favorite as this point," said political analyst Colin Moore, back in September.
"She has tremendous name recognition. She's widely respected in the state. She has great relations with labor unions, one of the most powerful interest groups in the state, which will help her raise money quickly so I think she will be a very tough candidate to beat."
Ige, meanwhile, said he welcomes Hanabusa's entry into the governor's race, but also defended his time in office.
"It is one thing to criticize, and it is another to get the people's business done," Ige said, in a statement released Monday. "I am proud of our record during the last three years. We have made hard decisions, sometimes unpopular decisions, because it was the right thing to do and in the best interests of the people of this state."
Members of private labor unions were at today's launch, along with state lawmakers and former governors George Ariyoshi and Ben Cayetano, who said he's friends with both Hanabusa and Ige.
"When it comes to choosing the governor, friendship is not the criteria, it's the ability, a willingness to take a tough positions. And Colleen is that and that's why I support her," said Cayetano. "I've had my fights with her but sometimes when you tangle with each other, you develop a grudging respect for each other."
Added Ariyoshi: "For me, I'm 92 years old this year, you know. It's not my future, it's the children's future and I want them to have a good future," he said.
Hanabusa was elected to serve Hawaii's 1st Congressional District in 2016, when she won a special election to fill the remainder of the late Rep. Mark Takai's term.
Sources told Hawaii News Now in July that several powerful Democrats who were formerly aligned with the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye had been urging Hanabusa to run against Ige, saying he had failed to take a leadership role on several of Hawaii's hotbed issues.
In the hours before his December 2012 death, Inouye asked then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie to appoint Hanabusa to his Senate seat. Abercrombie refused, instead appointing then-Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to the post.
Meanwhile, several Hawaii leaders have announced runs for Hanabusa's Congressional seat, including state Attorney General Doug Chin. Hanabusa said she is endorsing no one in that race.