WASHINGTON — You can add U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz to the list of big name Hawaii politicians who want to see Kai Kahele in Congress.

Schatz was the special guest at a March 10 fundraiser in Washington, D.C. that shipping giant Matson Inc.’s political action committee hosted for Kahele, who’s a Hawaii state senator.

The suggested donations, according to a copy of the fundraiser invite obtained by Civil Beat, were $500, $1,000 and $2,500.

Senator Brian Schatz takes questions during his town hall meeting held at Washington Middle School.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz helped raise money for Kai Kahele in Washington, D.C. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Kahele, a Democrat, is running to replace U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, which covers rural Oahu and the neighbor islands.

So far, Kahele has received the endorsements of three former Hawaii governors — John Waihee, Ben Cayetano and Neil Abercrombie — a number of his state senatorial colleagues and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

While Schatz’s appearance at a fundraiser does not equate to an outright endorsement, it does signal he backs Kahele’s candidacy.

Schatz’s campaign did not immediately respond to a Civil Beat request for comment.

At this point, Kahele appears to have a relatively clear path to securing the Democratic nomination for CD2.

Gabbard has already announced she will not be running for reelection and no other well-known candidates have entered the race.

Gabbard is technically still running for president, although she hasn’t held a public campaign event in a primary state since March 3 when she was in Detroit.

The congresswoman has only eclipsed 1% support in a handful of states.

In American Samoa, where she was born, Gabbard came in second to former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg with 29% of the vote, which was enough to secure her two of the territory’s six delegates.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, have more than 1,500 delegates between them.

If Gabbard changes her mind, she has until June to file for reelection in Hawaii.

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