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Candidates tossing hat in early, too


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POSTED: Saturday, December 12, 2009

The campaign for Hawaii's 1st Congressional seat shifted into high gear yesterday as all the major candidates vying to replace U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said they would also run in a winner-take-all race to fill out the remainder of his term.

Abercrombie announced yesterday that he will resign from Congress to concentrate on his campaign for governor.

Both major Democratic candidates, state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case, said they would also enter a special election to fill out the remainder of Abercrombie's term, which expires in January 2011.

And Republican Charles Djou, a Honolulu councilman, also said he would run in both the special election and the regular election.

Besides the special election, the trio had already said they were running to fill Abercrombie's seat for the two-year term that starts in January 2011.

Djou, who has drawn early support from the National Republican Congressional Caucus, says he has an advantage because he is the only candidate who lives in the 1st Congressional District, which runs from Hawaii Kai to Ewa Beach and includes Mililani.

; “;Obviously that's an advantage for me,”; Djou said. “;Colleen Hanabusa has the additional problem that she's the Senate president, and this Legislature's going to go and start a very difficult session.”;

Hanabusa lives in Ko Olina and Case lives in Kaneohe.

While Hanabusa and Case say they are in the special election, Hanabusa has a more complicated path because she is Senate president during a time of severe budget cutting and state reductions in service.

“;We are concerned about the running of the Senate, and those are decisions I will have to weigh,”; Hanabusa said.

“;I am going to keep in mind the best interest of the Senate first. Until we know for sure and it interferes with the Senate, I intend to fulfill my duties there as well,”; Hanabusa said.

Case said that he thinks his time in Congress, from 2002-2007, will help voters remember him and give them a reason to vote for him.

“;With my seniority, experience, relationships and knowledge of current issues in Congress, I can and will hit the ground running,”; Case said.