On Sunday a former state senator officially joined the race to represent Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional district in Washington, D.C.

Jill Tokuda said in a press release, “There is urgent work in Congress that needs immediate attention and I know my service to Hawaii can be most effective as a committed advocate in Congress. If elected, I will make it my priority to fight for every dollar for every family across our state.”

She added: “I understand the significant impact that federal dollars have on our economy and residents, and will work hard on behalf of all families, small businesses and children.”

Tokuda, who chaired the state Senate Ways and Means Committee, had been seeking the lieutenant governorship this year. But she pulled out of the race as it became clear that U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele would not be seeking a second term.

On Saturday Kahele said he would run for governor, although he will not resign his seat. His CD2 successor will be sworn in to office in early January.

Tokuda said in her press release that she had traveled the state this year and last and heard frustration from residents over lack of good jobs, rising prices and access to health care and mental health care.

Tokuda was also in D.C. recently, where she attended the annual EMILY’s List gala. The political action committee spends generously to help elect Democratic female candidates in favor of abortion rights to office.

The recent leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that could lead to overturning Roe v. Wade is certain to be a key political issue this year.

According to her campaign website, Tokuda, who is in her mid-40s, served in the state Senate from 2006-2018 representing Kaneohe and Kailua.

She is currently a co-director of CyberHawaii, which supports workforce development in IT and cyber security and data science.

She also serves on the board of the Hawaii Data Collaborative and is an advisory board member of the Hawaii Budget and Policy Center.

Married with two sons, she is a graduate of James B. Castle High School and earned a B.A. in international relations and a minor in Japanese studies from the George Washington University.

State Rep. Patrick Branco, another Democrat, is also running for CD2, which represents all of the state except urban Honolulu.

Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters has also pulled papers for the federal seat but has yet to announce publicly his intentions.

Nine people have thus far pulled papers to run for CD2 including several other Democrats, Republicans, nonpartisan and third party candidates. The filing deadline is June 7 and the primary is Aug. 13.

Help power our public service journalism

As a local newsroom, Civil Beat has a unique public service role in times of crisis.

That’s why we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content, so we can get vital information out to everyone, from all communities.

We are deploying a significant amount of our resources to covering the Maui fires, and your support ensures that we can pivot when these types of emergencies arise.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help power our nonprofit newsroom.

About the Author