(KHNL) - Brian Schatz is the only Democratic candidate for US House who will not return to office if he loses the primary. Schatz was elected to the state House in 1998 at age 26.
He currently serves as vice-chairman of the Water, Land and Ocean Affairs Committee and vice-chairman of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee. He is also CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii, one of Oahu's largest non-profit agencies.
In 2003 he was recognized as one of the ten outstanding young people in Hawaii. He attended Pomona College in California, majoring in philosophy. He is also married and has a two-year-old son.
Brian Schatz has been swimming in the state legislature for the last 8 years. Now he says he's ready for the ocean in Washington DC.
"That is a room full of barracudas, and you wanna send another barracuda to fight on behalf of Hawaii," said Schatz, one of the many Democratic candidates running for the 2nd district seat in U.S. Congress.
But even in the field of ten candidates, Schatz stands out. He is the only candidate who will not return to his current office if he loses the primary.
His term as the Makiki Tantalus state senator ends this year.
"Elected office is not a possession," he said. "It's not something to be horded, or protected. Elected office is about public service."
Schatz is going door to door to get votes, talking to people, shaking hands, and campaigning all across the state -- even in remote areas.
His campaign signs were the only ones to be found for miles in Kahuku and Haiku.
"This is a grassroots campaign," Schatz said. "We do have some advertising, but we really believe it is the person's reputation that matters the most."
People have called Schatz a rising star among Democrats, an environmentalist, and a breath of fresh air.
Others say he's too young.
"There are plenty of 33-year olds that don't belong in the U.S. House, plenty of 75-year olds that don't belong in the U.S. House," Schatz said. "I don't think age is anything to do with it. it has more to do on what your values are, what your skills are, and what you bring to the table."
Schatz says he'll bring youth and energy to the capital, and is thinking about Hawaii's best interests.
"This U.S. Congress is spending like drunken sailors, and they're spending on all the wrong things," he said.