Field of candidates for Takai's seat could hinge on whether political heavyweight runs

Potential Congressional Candidates

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Who will seek U.S. Rep. Mark Takai's seat?

That might all depend on whether former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa seeks her old job, according to one political analyst.

Takai on Thursday announced he will not seek re-election in November so that he can instead focus on fighting cancer.

Political onlookers suspect some familiar names might seek the seat. But whether they do could hinge on whether Hanabusa runs for it.

"It's a game of dominoes. Once something like this happens, then the dominoes begin to fall," said University of Hawaii political science Professor Dan Boylan.

And from analysts to politicians, all eyes are on Hanabusa.

"Certainly who announces they're in or out will impact everyone else," said state Senator Will Espero.

Potential candidates must not only size up their own chances, but do so in relation to the heavyweights.

If Hanabusa runs, it could be a significantly smaller field. If not, the field could be as big as what was seen in 2014, when seven Democrats ran.

"You can bet that some of them are going to be running for this again," Boylan said.

When asked about the election Friday, Espero said he's focused on getting re-elected to the state Senate.

However, as a candidate in that crowded field two years ago, he knows what the players are doing right now. "There are many meetings, conversations going on, people talking to contributors, businesses, unions," he said.

And with such a small window from now until the primaries, Espero said timing is critical.

Former Congressman Charles Djou received backlash on social media in response to a tweet Thursday, which he offered his support for Takai but then added the hashtag #djou4hawaii.

Despite the faux pas, if Djou enters, he'll be an early favorite.

"He came very close in the general election against Takai. Charles has won more than once," Boylan said.

While Djou has won the race before, he's also lost it -- to Hanabusa.

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