Less than three weeks before he will be sworn in as a U.S. representative, Kai Kahele on Wednesday stepped down from his state Senate seat.

Kahele, a Democrat who represents Hilo, was appointed in 2016 to fill the seat of his late father, Senator Gilbert Kahele.

On Nov. 3, Kahele was elected to represent Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District in Washington, D.C.

Senator Kai Kahele listens to Chair Stanley Chang during a housing meeting held in the Capitol, room 225.
Hawaii state Sen. Kai Kahele at a legislative hearing in 2020. He will be sworn in to Congress in early January. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

“It has been an honor to represent and serve the people of Hilo in the Hawaii State Senate for the past four years,” Kahele said in a press release. “As a member of Congress, I look forward to continue working with our State leaders to rebuild our economy and create a more resilient Hawaii for future generations.”

According to a press release from the Democratic Party of Hawaii on Wednesday, the appointee — as explained in Hawaii Revised Statutes — “shall be at the time of the appointment, and shall have been for at least six months immediately prior to the appointment” a member of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. “Furthermore, the appointee shall, at the time of the appointment, be a resident of Senate District 1.”

Interested candidates who wish to be considered and meet the qualifications can get an application packet by emailing sd1vacancy2020@gmail.com. Applications must be received by 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Democratic Party officers from nine precincts in Senate District 1 will convene virtually on Dec. 23 to identify three possible replacements for Kahele. The names will be transmitted to Gov. David Ige, who will have 60 days to fill the vacancy.

The 25-member state Senate currently has 23 Democrats and one Republican. Kahele’s replacement will be a Democrat.

The 2nd Congressional District, which covers all the neighbor islands and half of Oahu, is currently represented by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat who did not seek re-election.

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