U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said late Thursday that she will not seek another term in Congress.
The Democratic candidate for president will now concentrate on her campaign for the White House.
Gabbard made the announcement in a 6-minute video that was released at 6 p.m. HST.
“As president, I will immediately begin work to end the new Cold War and nuclear arms race, end our interventionist foreign policy of being the world’s police, toppling dictators and governments we don’t like, and redirect our precious resources towards serving the needs of the people here at home,” she said.
“As such, I will not be seeking re-election to Congress in 2020, and humbly ask you for your support for my candidacy for President of the United States.”
A former state legislator and member of the Honolulu City Council, Gabbard was first elected to the 2nd Congressional District in 2012. She easily won several re-elections.
Gabbard is a long-shot candidate for president, polling nationally at about 1%. But her future is focused on winning the office.
“Our country is so divided, and we live in an increasingly dangerous world,” she said. “We are ever closer to being sucked into another even more disastrous war in the Middle East (Iran). Tensions are increasing with other nuclear-armed countries like Russia and China, leading us to a new Cold War and nuclear arms race, pushing us closer to the threat of nuclear annihilation.
“In light of these challenges, I believe I can best serve the people of Hawaii and our country as President and Commander-in-Chief.”
Gabbard added, “I’m so grateful to the people of Hawaii for allowing me to serve you in Congress for the last seven years. Throughout my life, I’ve been motivated by a desire to serve the people of Hawaii and our country, and have made my decisions based upon where I felt I could do the most good.”
State Sen. Kai Kahele is running for Gabbard’s seat, which represents rural Oahu and the neighbor islands.
“I wholly appreciate Congresswoman Gabbard’s decision to step away from her congressional seat,” Kahele said. “I wish her and her family all the best going forward. I am committed to our campaign and I will look forward to representing our people in Congress.”
Gabbard concluded her announcement with a pledge to the people of Hawaii.
“Hawaii is and will always be my home and you, the people of Hawaii, will always be my heart. I carry my love for Hawaii and our people everywhere I go. Please know that I will always do my best to serve you, our state, and our country with aloha.”
Neal Milner, a retired University of Hawaii political science professor and frequent political commentator including on Civil Beat, said it has become impossible to figure out why Gabbard makes the decisions she does.
In this case, with no realistic shot at winning a presidential bid, he was at a loss to even speculate about why she is announcing she won’t run for her congressional seat again.
“The pundits are going to say it’s because she thought she was going to lose to (Kai Kahele),” he said. But he doesn’t buy that.
“Tulsi knows how to get votes and there’s no indication, at least from the polling we have, that she’s unpopular in her district,” Milner said.
“I think that we should just give up trying to figure out what she’s doing and just watch her do it.”
Civil Beat Editor Patti Epler contributed to this report.
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