As expected, EMILY’S List, a national PAC devoted to electing women, announced it will be endorsing Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in her race against Sen. Brian Schatz.

The PAC, in a press release, did not say how much it might throw toward Hanabusa, who after getting a late start on fundraising trails Schatz in that regard.  However, the PAC’s support represents a major boost. 

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, EMILY’s LIst made $4.6 million in contributions to candidates last year and spent $7.7 million independently, most to defeat their candidates’ opponents.

Between contributions from its PAC and individual supporters, it gave $215,000 to Sen. Mazie Hirono’s campaign last year. And in its press release, it sounds like the combination of Hanabusa’s progressive record on women’s issues and the prospect of having both Hawaii U.S. Senate seats held by women makes her a priority.

“The EMILY’s List community is ready to fight for her every step of the way so that she can take her place as a senator from HawaiI,” the release said. “Colleen is the right choice for women and families in Hawai’i, and EMILY’s List won’t stop until she shatters yet another glass ceiling by making Hawaii the fourth state to send two women to the United States Senate.” 

The news was not unexpected. EMILY’s List spokeswoman Marcy Stech told Civil Beat last week it was “likely” the group would be endorsing Hanabusa. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, EMILY’s List was also Hanabusa’s largest supporter in last year’s election, contributing $75,702 to her between PAC and individual donations.

In the release, Stephanie Schriock, President of EMILY’s List, said “Colleen Hanabusa is an experienced progressive champion who has spent her career serving the people of Hawai’i with passion and integrity.

“She’s a glass ceiling breaker who was the first woman in Hawai’i, and first Asian American woman in the country, to lead a state legislative chamber.”

Hanabusa, in a statement, said, “I am pleased and honored to have earned the support of EMILY’s List, an organization that has done so much to protect women’s health and safety. I look forward to working with them in reaching out to women and men across Hawaii who are ready to stand up for vital individual rights.”

The release cited her tenure in the Hawaii State Senate, where “she fought to expand birth control coverage, protected the rights of victims of sexual assault, and defended the rights of workers to organize.”

In Congress, “she has protected a woman’s right to make her own healthcare choices, is an avid supporter of fostering sustainability in Hawai’i,  has helped acquire more than $117 million in education funding for Hawaiian public schools, and has fought to project jobs for the people of Hawail,” the release said.

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— Kery Murakami