Political insiders sound off on Hanabusa-Schatz showdown

Updated: Apr. 23, 2013 at 5:57 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Her camp isn't confirming, but reports say U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will challenge Brian Schatz for his seat in the U. S. Senate in 2014.

"The profile of both of these candidates are about the same," political analyst Dan Boylan said.

He said a primary showdown between the two well-known Democrats will be a battle.

"You're going to hear much talk about experience and leadership background during this campaign, much about youth," he said.

"The only thing that we ask is that they keep their campaigns very positive oriented and no negativity," Hawaii Democratic Party chairman Dante Carpenter said.

The specter of former U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye's dying wish will play a part. He hand-picked Hanabusa.

"His endorsement in saying this was the person he wanted to replace him, that's going to carry some weight," Boylan said.

But Gov. Neil Abercrombie chose Schatz.

"Is that an important point? Yes it is. To the point where it overrides all other conditions? I would say no," Carpenter said.

Boylan said endorsements will weigh heavily and the campaigns will spend a lot of money. Schatz raised more than $1 million in the first quarter of the year.

Win or lose, Hanabusa's House seat will be up for grabs.

"An open seat in any election is a good thing because it gives opportunities for the Republican party," Hawaii Republican Party chairman David Chang said.

The winner in a Schatz-Hanabusa face-off would fill the final two years of Inouye's term. Boylan said voters must look beyond that.

"I think that's going to be the argument. Who can be effective over the long haul? Are we better off having somebody young, or do we want someone who was a leader in the state Senate and has proven leadership qualities?" he said.

A spokesman for Hanabusa said she has no immediate plans to announce her U.S. Senate intentions. But Congress is in recess next week and Hanabusa will be in Hawaii.

A statement from Schatz's campaign said "there'll be plenty of time to focus on politics once the race actually takes shape."

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