U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa announced late Tuesday she would skip a run for the U.S. Senate and instead seek re-election to her 1st Congressional District seat.

In a statement, Hanabusa said, “After much thought and much reflection, I have determined that I can best serve Hawaii by seeking re-election for a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Hanabusa said stability for Hawaii in the House and preserving state interests like the East-West Center and military funding were the primary reasons for her decision.

Djou v. Hanabusa Redux

Hanabusa’s decision means the 2012 general election will likely be a rematch with Republican Charles Djou, who announced his candidacy last week.

Hanabusa defeated Djou in the November 2010 general election but lost to him in the May 2010 special election that sent Djou to Congress to fill the remainder of Neil Abercrombie‘s seat.

Hanabusa’s decision also dramatically reshapes the race to replace U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, who is retiring next year.

That race pits U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, who occupies the 2nd Congressional District, against former Congressman Ed Case in the Democratic primary.

Former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, is expected to announced her intentions regarding the Senate this fall.

Hanabusa was torn by the desire to hold on to a relatively safe seat that she won only after several failed tries, or to seek an open Senate seat that has been a rarity in Hawaii politics.

A U.S. senator is also one among 100 versus the 435 members in the U.S. House of Representatives. While Hanabusa says she is enjoying her first term in office, Democrats are in the minority and the Tea Party is driving the Republican agenda.

Inouye’s Successor?

However, Akaka and Sen. Daniel K. Inouye both turn 87 next month, and Hanabusa, 60, is an obvious candidate to replace Inouye when he leaves office. Inouye is said to favor Hanabusa as his successor.

It is Hirono who may benefit most from Hanabusa’s decision not to foster a three-way race among Democrats. She and Hanabusa are more liberal politicians than the moderate Case.

But, like the CD1 race, the Senate race has its political antecedents.

Hirono narrowly defeated Case in the 2002 Democratic primary for governor, and Case built on the strength of that campaign to win a seat for Congress that same year in a special election.

Hirono currently has a significant fundraising advantage over Case. But Case may be helped because now he can focus on just one opponent and make the argument that he could best defeat Lingle.

Lingle also has an election history with Hirono: She defeated her in the 2002 general election, though Hirono was the sitting lieutenant governor.

With control of Congress and the White House in play, the 2012 election is already historic. Here at home, it will also be personal.

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