Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii’s “it girl,” is heading to Washington D.C.

The 31-year-old rising star of the Democratic Party beat Republican challenger Kawika Crowley by a landslide Tuesday night, gaining 77 percent of the vote, to Crowley’s 19 percent, with all precincts reporting.

She told a crowd of cheering supporters at the Democratic campaign headquarters in the Japanese Cultural Center that she was able to pull off what seemed to be the impossible because of them.

“It was because of all of you. It was because of the hard work of our team and the people that I had the great honor and privilege to meet throughout this year,” she said.

Gabbard will join fellow Democrat Colleen Hanabusa in the U.S. House of Representatives this January. Hanabusa topped Republican opponent Charles Djou, 54 percent to 44 percent.

“Mahalo very much for everything that you have done,” said Hanabusa during her victory speech. “Mahalo for this great night. And I hope that the one thing we leave here knowing is that this is a great time to be a Democrat.”

Hanabusa Beats Djou — Again

This is the third match-up between Hanabusa and Djou for the 1st Congressional District seat. He won the first one, and she’s won the last two.

Djou told reporters Tuesday night that the voters had spoken.

“I think for myself, and my supporters we’re very disappointed, but yielding to the will of the voter is something I’ve always been willing to do,” he said. “I know so many of my volunteers put their heart and soul into this campaign.”

In May 2010, Djou won the seat vacated by Neil Abercrombie, who left Congress after 20 years to run for governor. The Army Reserves major beat Hanabusa and Ed Case, who split the Democratic vote, becoming the first Republican in Hawaii to be sent to Congress in two decades.

But Djou’s stint didn’t last long. Hanabusa defeated Djou in November 2010 by 6 points.

Hanabusa has been viewed as the frontrunner throughout the race, enjoying the advantage of incumbency. It’s rare in Hawaii for voters to unseat their Washington D.C. delegation.

From Underdog to Shoo-In

Gabbard’s numbers are no surprise. The first-term Honolulu City Council member scored an upset against former Mayor Mufi Hannemann in the August primary, beating him by 20 percentage points. Since then, polls have had her trouncing Crowley, a cigar-smoking handyman who lives out of his van on Oahu.

Gabbard will be the first Hindu to serve in Congress.

The daughter of state Sen. Mike Gabbard, she was born in American Samoa and moved to Hawaii at the age of two.

Gabbard showed promise at an early age. She won a seat in the Hawaii House of Representatives at the age of 21, becoming the youngest elected official in Hawaii legislative history.

She abdicated her seat early to serve in the Middle East with her National Guard unit. Gabbard has also worked as a legislative aide for Sen. Daniel Akaka, advising him on issues including energy, the environment, veterans affairs and homeland security.

She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, representing the 6th District that includes Makiki, Kalihi and Downtown Honolulu.

Gabbard’s campaign for Congress focused on ending the war in Afghanistan, veterans affairs, tightening regulations on Wall Street and gay rights. She made political waves earlier this year when she came out in favor of gay marriage. It was a political reversal for her and a surprise locally — her father, Sen. Gabbard, has led a two-decade campaign against gay marriage.

Gabbard made her debut on the national political stage in September when, after her triumph in the primary, she was invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte alongside Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Gabbard will replace Mazie Hirono, who left the House to successfully run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retiring Akaka.

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