At a town hall meeting with U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in Palolo Tuesday night, the question on everybody’s mind came early during the Q&A session: Is she going to run for the U.S. Senate?
Hanabusa was prepared.
“I think it is something that anyone who has been around thinks about, and I am giving it thought,” she replied. “Because it is a major situation in terms of how you can best serve Hawaii. And that has always been my fundamental guide. And if I feel that it will [be my guide], it will tip it that way. But, right now, there is so much to concentrate on in the House.”
In a Q&A with Civil Beat, Hanabusa opens up about a possible 2012 Senate race to fill the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.
Civil Beat: When will you make a decision on whether to run for Senate?
Colleen Hanabusa: I think a decision has to be made by probably August, because the (2012) primary election was moved to August. You have to somewhere around that time know which way you are going — maybe not making public your announcement then, because other factors play into it. And one is money to effectively wage this kind of race, and the other thing is who is in the race. I think anyone who has been in politics for awhile, for them to not say it has not crossed their mind, they are not being very candid. This is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often.
What do you say to the argument that it is perhaps perhaps not a good idea for a freshmen House representative to already be seeking higher office — especially since it took you several tries to get there?
You known what’s interesting is that — and this isn’t my thoughts, this is a constituent’s I spoke with recently at the Japanese Cultural Center after the Akaka announcement — and this gentleman came up, a senior gentleman, and said, “I want you to seriously consider running.” And I told him, “I gotta tell you, I’m surprised you would say that, because normally I would have expected you to to say, ‘Wait your turn.'” And he said no.
He said, “The reason I am telling you to consider is that, of course, you don’t have seniority. I have watched your career and I know you can be effective. Stop to consider if Akaka stayed in House and what it would mean for Hawaii: He would be in charge of appropriations in the House and Sen. Inouye would be in charge of appropriations, too — what power for our little state!”
And that was a total new spin. He felt we have the least to lose if I were to go for the Senate — that and the fact he felt I was a really good legislator.
And the other thing that is ironic is that, when you look at running, you are talking about others who have run and lost too. When you look at Ed (Case) and a combination of Mufi (Hannemann), Ed and Mazie (Hirono), the one thing they all have in common is that they have all run statewide. Now, I have run a couple of times (for higher office), and though it’s not statewide, it is ironic that they don’t seem to ask this question about why do you think you can run. Yes, I have lost races, but not as badly as others.
The real issue should be, who can best represent Hawaii? Who, when this election comes down to the heated end, has the best ability to stand up to whatever is thrown at them and can do a hard campaign? And one thing I will tell you is that I can take on a hard campaign. And if it is Linda Lingle, I have had eight years with Linda Lingle.
What issues would a Democrat need to run on to defeat a Republican candidate like Lingle?
I don’t know how the Republican mantra will come out, but what we have seen is a robotic mantra. The issues that they’re talking about are the debt and the deficit and so forth. But, now because of the (Paul) Ryan budget, we know how they intend to address that.
So, No. 1, we will not balance (the budget) on the backs of seniors, not on the backs of those who need help and are the most vulnerable — like those on Medicaid. And, more important, not on the backs of everyone else for the benefit of the 2 percent that (the Republicans) want to preserve with an even lower tax rate. And, also benefits for oil companies.
In addition to that, I am an advocate, especially in Hawaii, of Pacific Command’s role in the future, and I think my experience on (the House Committee on) Armed Services will help. But, there is fluff in the military budget that can be cut. We have to have the ability to question the defense budget, not just say it is untouchable and sacred. We’ve got to ask the questions
OK. On another note, how’s the hunt for a home in Congressional District 1 going?
It’s going pretty good. As you know, we had the house listed and we have had some open houses. And on Monday I put in an application for a condominium. But, I got rejected! I am not sure why; someone had a better offer.
But, I want to keep my word. I am going to get a rental unit, because it takes awhile to sell a house and move, especially in this market. My husband, who has been looking for me, is talking to a Realtor and doing the paperwork.
My guess is that we are getting close. I have an appointment tomorrow, and if I get it, I will let you know. But, do you know how bad it is to put in an application and get rejected! (Laughs.) But I still intend to buy a house and move. Reapportionment is going to be done around August, so maybe that will be a factor (on location).
Coming Friday: Rep. Hanabusa talks about her experiences in Congress.