Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard was sailing smoothly into a second two-year term Tuesday night, leading Republican Kawika Crowley in the race to represent rural Oahu and the neighbor islands in the U.S. House.
Gabbard had 76 percent of the vote, to 18 percent for Crowley, according to early returns. Libertarian Joe Kent had 2 percent.
Gabbard, a 33-year-old rising star in the Democratic Party, hardly had to campaign this election after running unopposed in the Aug. 9 primary.
Tuesday marks the second time Gabbard has defeated Crowley, a 63-year-old professional handyman and advertising consultant.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and state Rep. Mark Takai, left, are seen in this photo from a 2013 National Guard event.
In Gabbard’s first shot at a congressional seat in 2012, she blew past former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann in the Democratic primary and then beat Crowley in the general, winning 77 percent of the vote.
This election season she’s spent more time helping others and presumably laying the groundwork for future elections, although it’s uncertain what position she might seek. There’s been speculation that Gabbard might run for the Senate.
Gabbard and her political action committee have spent thousands of dollars helping fellow Democrats in Hawaii and on the mainland.
The day after state Rep. Mark Takai beat six other candidates in the primary for the 1st Congressional District seat, Gabbard’s PAC gave his campaign $2,600. He was tied in the polls with Republican Charles Djou going into the general.
Gabbard is proud of her record thus far in D.C. In a recent email to Civil Beat, she touted a bipartisan bill to reform the Veterans Administration that included a provision based on her proposal to give veterans immediate access to private physicians.
She also highlighted a bill she introduced, called the Helping Heroes Fly Act, that “eases the pain, stress or embarrassment that severely wounded or disabled veterans were previously experiencing going through airport screenings.”
Gabbard also was pleased she was able to help restore VA home loans for veterans on the Big Island after learning that access to the benefit was ensnared in bureaucracy.
Looking ahead to her next two years in office, Gabbard said she’s concerned about another economic crisis. She wants to protect the public from the risky bets taken by the largest financial institutions by pushing for the reinstatement of the Glass-Stegall Act.
Gabbard also wants to refocus the national security strategy away from the “distractions of nation-building and regime change.” She sees the priority being protecting Americans from Islamic extremist threats and nuclear-armed North Korea.
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