Espero enters race to replace Hanabusa in Congress

Published: Jul. 21, 2013 at 8:30 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 21, 2013 at 10:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State Sen. Will Espero has officially declared himself as a candidate to replace Colleen Hanabusa in Hawaii's first congressional district.

Espero made the announcement Sunday at a place familiar to him -- the State Capitol, where he highlighted his 30 years of work experience in Hawaii, including ten years in the private sector. "And 14 years in the state legislature, eight years working with the administration of Mayor Frank Fasi in the City and County of Honolulu. So 22 years of government service," he said.

The 52-year-old Espero is now in his third term in the state senate, representing the Ewa area of Oahu. He said he has looked at several issues on the federal level, including same-sex marriage. He said the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act changed his mind on the issue.

"I did vote 'no' on civil unions," he said. "However, my position today on same-sex marriage is that I do support same-sex marriage." Espero added that he would still work to see that churches could be exempt from having to perform those marriages.

Espero was one of the candidates who put their name in for consideration to succeed the late Sen. Daniel Inouye last year. He said Hanabusa's decision to challenge Inouye's appointed successor, Brian Schatz, made his own decision easy. "Once she declared her intention, we knew that this was a race that we could not pass up."

So far, the only other declared candidate is freshman Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang. We posted the question of why there are so few declared candidates to political analyst and Hawaii Pacific University communications professor John Hart. "I think the two easiest words to explain this are: Ed Case," he said.

Earlier this month, the former congressman announced he had accepted a job with Outrigger Enterprises group, a move that likely ended his political career. "When Ed decided he wasn't going to run, that's what has opened the floodgates," said Hart. "I think you're going to see a lot more announcements now that Case is out."

Chang issued a statement, which read, "I welcome the opportunity for a healthy debate on the issues with Senator Espero in the Democratic primary. I look forward to working hard and reaching out to the people of the district on fighting for a better quality of life for the future of Hawaii."

Espero is aware that there will be more hats thrown into the ring. "But at this time, we're not concerned about who the others are going to be," he said. "We have a goal, we have an agenda, and we're going to work very hard until August 2014 to meet our goal and win this election."

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