Hawaii has two congressional districts, the 1st and the 2nd. The 2nd district includes Kauai, Maui, the Hawaii Island, Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the north and west regions of Oahu. The district contains 679,805 people.
Tulsi Gabbard is the district’s representative, having won the seat in the Nov. 6, 2012 election after Rep. Mazie Hirono resigned to run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Daniel Akaka.
After upsetting veteran politician and former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann in the primary, Gabbard was tagged by national Democrats as a rising star.
The 2nd district is large and diverse culturally and economically. But it’s a solid Democratic seat. It has never been represented by a Republican in Congress.
In 2004, Sen. John Kerry beat President George W. Bush with 56 percent of the vote. In 2008, Barack Obama won the 2nd, taking 73 percent of the vote, compared to opponent Sen. John McCain’s 25 percent.
The 2nd district houses some of Hawaii’s most iconic venues and businesses. These include Haleakala National Park on Maui and Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. The town of Hilo, also on the island of Hawaii, hosts the Merrie Monarch Festival and is home to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation. Kauai, the “Garden Isle,” has helped inject millions of dollars into the Hawaiian economy through film and television productions.
Much of the 2nd district is rural. It figures largely in Hawaii’s ranching and plantation history. Oahu’s North Shore is one of the state’s major attractions, bringing visitors from around the world to witness its massive winter waves and enjoy the historic town of Haleiwa.
From statehood in 1959 until 1963, Hawaii sent a lone representative to the U.S. House of Representatives. The 1960 U.S. Census determined that the population of Hawaii was large enough to be entitled to a second representative, but the Census results couldn’t apply until the 1962 election. In January of 1963, Hawaii swore in and sent two at-large representatives who were elected statewide.
In 1971, the state created its two districts, the 1st Congressional District, which consisted primarily of urban Oahu, and the 2nd Congressional District, which consisted of the rest of the state.
Since the district’s creation in 1977, it has only elected Democratic representatives: Daniel Akaka (1977-1990), Patsy Mink (1990-2002), Ed Case (2002-2007) and Mazie Hirono (2007-present).