Rep. Colleen Hanabusa has passed the one-year mark since she was sworn in as Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District representative. 

In a conversation with Hanabusa this week, DC808 picked up on a narrative that we’re likely to hear more of throughout the congresswoman’s 2012 re-election campaign: Her ability to work with Republicans. 

Hanabusa says her motto in Congress — “one step at a time” — comes from Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young. She described her work on a Republican-controlled business defense panel, and she said she was proud of a vote she made that teamed her up with Republicans and upset environmentalists. (The point she made in this case was that she voted “for Hawaii,” and against EPA regulations that she says could have cost a Maui sugar plant hundreds of jobs).

As a Democrat in a Republican-controlled House, Hanabusa has no choice but to work with GOP colleagues. But pointing this out may also be a smart campaign strategy. Hanabusa will have to beat back a challenge from Republican former Congressman Charles Djou to keep her post.

Hanabusa also made clear her loyalty to her party. Asked for predictions about what will have happened in Congress by 2013, she didn’t miss a beat: “Of course I would hope that we have our president re-elected and that the Senate retains its (Democratic) majority and that the House is able to take back the majority status as well. That’s what I hope. Then it’s a different kind of battle: A different kind of challenge but it’s still a challenge.”

Hanabusa and Sen. Daniel Akaka pose for photos after a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in November 2011.

How much do you value our journalism?

Civil Beat focuses exclusively on the kind of journalism most at risk of disappearing – in-depth, investigative and enterprise coverage of important local issues. While producing this type of journalism isn’t cheap, you won’t find our content hidden behind a paywall. We also never worry about upsetting advertisers – because we don’t allow any. As a nonprofit newsroom, we rely on donations from readers like you to help keep our stories free and accessible to everyone. If you value our journalism, show us with your support.