Congressman-elect Kahele prepares to move from sleepy Hilo to a divided DC

Updated: Nov. 9, 2020 at 4:41 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Congressman-elect and current state Sen. Kai Kahele said Monday that he owes his personal and political trajectory to is late father, state Sen. Gil Kahele.

“He would be so proud so excited that a Hilo boy, a son of Milolii is going to Congress,” said Kahele to Hawaii News Now.

But Kahele said he realizes he’ll have a tough road ahead in Washington, D.C.

“It is a divided Congress and we are going to have to work together," he said.

He added, “Easier said then done.”

In a news conference over Zoom, Kahele and Congressman Ed Case, who won re-election, said they’d support Nancy Pelosi as House speaker and push to compromise to get things done.

“Here in Hawaii, we have to recognize that 1 in 3 voters decided that Donald Trump was the better choice over Joe Biden," Case said.

“I think for me that takes an amount of soul-searching within my own party.”

While Case is a moderate Democrat, Kahele touts his progressive values, including support for mMdicare for all and a minimum wage hike.

“There are key things that I support philosophically. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to listen to the people who ultimately sent me to congress to represent them,” said Kahele.

He also supports a national mask mandate and wants the neighbor islands to have more control over CARES Act funding.

Kahele is a member of the Air National Guard and says he’ll fight for millions in federal funding of the national guard who are deployed for coronavirus contact tracing, airport screening and testing efforts.

“They are absolutely critical. We are going to need the national guard to help distribute a vaccine across the state so we cannot let them lose their federal funding," he said.

“We cannot have the state pick up the National Guard tab.”

Kahele says he’ll be moving to DC with his wife and children by next summer.

“The entire family is coming to Washington and they’re super excited,” said Kahele.

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