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"I enlisted because I have a strong desire to serve our country and state, and as a solider, I am proud of what I do," said Tamayo, 23, (D, Waipahu-Ewa).
Tamayo faces opposition from three other Democrats in the Sept. 18 primary election with the winner going on to run against Republican Trevor Koch in the Nov. 2 general election.
A Democratic opponent, Rida Cabanilla, who is a major in the Army Reserve, said Tamayo should pull out of the race because she cannot represent her district from Iraq.
"I give her credit, but she volunteered to go. We need young people, but how can she run this district when she is thousands of miles away?
"It is a noble idea, but she should give up the idea of volunteering and being in the district," Cabanilla said.
In preparation for re-election, Tamayo said she has already talked to House Speaker Calvin Say to find the "best way to continue to have a presence and a voice in the Legislature even though I will not physically be here.
"Fortunately, in this age of modern warfare, the communications capability in Iraq are very good," Tamayo said. "As far as the quality of service to my constituents, it will not drop in any way. I am confident they will be well served."
Say (D, Palolo) said his office is researching this issue, but noted that she is now under orders from the Department of Defense.
"We do not have full control over how to handle her role as a legislator once she is deployed," he said. "I know Rep. Tamayo would like to hold onto her seat and serve from overseas. We are hopeful that our research will provide a reasonable answer."
But an Aug. 2 Department of Defense directive says that members of the armed services on active duty are not allowed to hold a civilian office if they are deployed for more than 270 days.
The rule says a member on active duty shall not "use his or her official authority or influence for interfering with an election; affecting the course or outcome of an election; soliciting votes for a particular candidate or issues; or requiring of soliciting political contributions from others.
"(Or) Be a candidate for, hold or exercise the functions of civil office."
State Attorney General Mark Bennett said there are no state laws prohibiting Tamayo from running for office while on active duty. Bennett added that his office has not researched the federal directive.
"I don't recall anything like this coming up," Bennett said.
Takai (D, Newtown-Pearl City) praised Tamayo and said he had not heard of the federal directive prohibiting active-duty soldiers from running for office or serving in the Legislature.
"I think Tulsi has done a good job in the Legislature and the Guard, and I believe we can continue to run for office while in the Guard," Takai said.
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