Matt Matsunaga: Candidate Profile

Matt Matsunaga
Matt Matsunaga
Matt and Janel Matsunaga
Matt and Janel Matsunaga

by Marvin Buenconsejo

(KHNL) - At 47-years old, the youthful Matt Matsunaga is making his third run at Capitol Hill. Yes, he is the son of beloved congressman and US senator, Spark Matsunaga. But Matt stepped out of the shadow of this notable father years ago.

Matt Matsunaga brings experience, serving as a state lawmaker in Hawaii for a decade. He also brings the intellect, earning his undergraduate degree at Bucknell, before receiving his law degree at Georgetown University.

We catch up with Matsunaga, the politician, the attorney, the family man.

It is a time of renewal for the former state senator. Re-married last December, Matt Matsunaga is still somewhat of a newlywed. He is a partner at a prominent Honolulu law firm. And now, he's making his third-run for Congress.

"America and Hawaii are headed in the wrong direction and we need leadership to point us in the right direction" says Matsunaga.

Matsunaga supports small businesses, attacking Bush's tax cuts for the weathy. He is a supporter of renewable energy for our islands.

"Hawaii is so dependent on imported oil, over 90 percent dependent on imported oil and as you know burning fossil fuels is the greatest cause of global warming."

While born here, Matt Matsunaga did not grow up in the islands. But, he explains, he still grew up with island values in Spark Matsunaga's home-away-from-home.

"I look at the way my father handled the situation. We lived 5,000 miles from Hawaii. But it was really a Hawaii home in Washington DC. We took off our shoes, we ate local foods, we read the local newspapers, we really kept in touch with what's going back at the Hawaii level."

But, Matsunaga says there's an added advantage to growing-up in our nation's capital.

"I worked in Washington DC. I worked on Capitol Hill and learning from my father, I know how Congress should work and that's a huge advantage when you come from a small state like Hawaii."

Both Matt and wife Janel emphasize running for Congress is serious, intense work. But, family comes first.

"Making sure that that doesn't get compromised because if there's any example that we need to be to the people of Hawaii, it's that we're a real family" says Janel Matsunaga.