HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former state Sen. Clayton Hee took to Facebook Tuesday to announce he's running for governor.
He enters the race as an underdog to incumbent Gov. David Ige and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.
To make up ground, he's hoping appeal to millennials and working class voters, pushing issues like the high cost of rail, a lottery and recreational marijuana — new revenue sources instead of raising taxes.
"One of the things I would do as governor is to send a bill down to legalize recreational marijuana because that would raise hundreds of millions of dollars," said the former Windward Oahu lawmaker.
"I would ask them to consider a multi-state lottery."
It's a big step for Hee, who entered politics as a Hawaiian rights activist and later became one of the first Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees.
Those rough and tumble years at OHA gave him a reputation of sometimes being temperamental and confrontational. He's best known as a state senator who took on tough issues.
"I wrote the minimum wage law, I wrote the same sex law," Hee said.
The last time Hee ran for office in the lieutenant governor's race, he received 80,000 votes. That was more than what former Gov. Neil Abercrombie received when he was unseated as governor.
"He's clearly the underdog, but he definitely has a chance potentially to win. So I don't think he's just a spoiler," said University of Hawaii political science Professor Colin Moore.
For Hee, attracting young voters between the ages of 20 and 40 will be key, Moore said.
That demographic played a big role in Bernie Sanders' big victory over Hillary Clinton in the Hawaii's 2016 Democratic presidential preference poll.
Hee believes that their future is at risk because of current state spending.
"The millennials more than any other group people are taking it in the shorts in my opinion. Retirees have a retirement but it's going to be soon financed by the millennials." Hee said.
"I think the Bernie Sanders presidential preference poll in Hawaii was so overwhelming a message that enough was enough, they're not going to take it anymore … and they're looking for someone who will change the paradigm from same ole, same ole."
Both Hanabusa and Ige campaign welcomed Hee entry into the race. Hanabusa's campaign issued this statement today:
"This election will be about who the people of Hawaii believe has the clearest vision, ability and experience to guide our state into the next decade," the campaign said.