HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club announced Sunday that it is endorsing Mazie Hirono for U.S. Senate, Colleen Hanabusa in her re-election bid to the First Congressional District, and Tulsi Gabbard for the Second Congressional District.
The Sierra Club is the state's largest environmental grassroots organization. It said it picked the three Democrats in a lengthy process that involved all the candidates.
"We went through a long process starting several months ago," said Steve Montgomery, the Hawaii Chapter's political co-chair. "We have a questionnaire that was developed with our partners in the national Sierra Club office, and that was sent out to every candidate that was filing for the office."
According to Montgomery, those questionnaires and possible endorsements were then reviewed and approved by Sierra Club committees.
"People from all the islands took part in that. And we sent our recommendations on to the national Sierra Club, and they reviewed it, based on a close examination of their voting records," he said.
The Sierra Club said it endorsed Hirono in the senate race because she "is a proven green advocate," and pointed to her 100 percent voting record with the League of Conservation Voters.
In a printed statement, Hirono said, "I am committed to a more sustainable and secure Hawaii future that supports our local farmers and fishing industry and wisely invests in home-grown energy sources including ocean energy, solar power, bio fuels, and wind. I welcome the endorsements of esteemed groups like the Sierra Club and Ocean Champions."
Her Democratic primary opponent, former congressman Ed Case, said his environmental record was equally strong. "I'm committed to fighting for our Earth, and have shown that I can produce results, such as my work with a Republican administration to achieve the most significant marine conservation initiative in our country's history, creation of the Papahanaumokuakea National Marine Monument," he said in a statement.
In the race for the 2nd district, Gabbard was picked over former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
"Here in Hawaii especially, we grow up knowing that protecting the land, protecting the aina, is a way of life," Gabbard said. "It's part of the culture here, and that's really what Sierra Club represents, and it's something that I spent my life committed to doing."
Hawaii News Now didn't hear from Hannemann regarding Gabbard's Sierra Club endorsement, but he received labor endorsements Sunday from the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots and IBEW Local 1357. Hannemann has received endorsements from 22 labor organizations in the race.
Hanabusa, in Washington, issued a statement that said, "I appreciate the support of the Sierra Club's Hawaii Chapter. Balancing the preservation of our precious natural environment with Hawaii's other diverse needs calls for our continued vigilance and ongoing commitment."
Republican Charles Djou told Hawaii News Now that he had a rich appreciation of environmental issues, and pointed to his record of pushing for curbside recycling and supporting solar energy projects as a member of the Honolulu City Council.
The Sierra Club issued its endorsements on Earth Day. It said that ultimately, it is looking at lawmakers on the federal level who can help move away from fossil fuels and toward more renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar.
"I think these candidates will help Hawaii and help our country move in that direction so that we're not so vulnerable on supplies from outside," said Montgomery.