HONOLULU (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa has begun the process in Hawaii to run for the congressional seat that will be left vacant by U.S. Rep. Mark Takai.
The Hawaii Office of Elections said Hanabusa was issued nomination papers on Thursday. That's the first step candidates take when running for office.
Hanabusa served in the U.S. House from 2011 until 2015. She gave up her seat to run for the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye's Senate seat, but she lost to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. Hanabusa now serves as chairman of the board of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.
"I think that she will be a nearly impossible candidate to beat," said Colin Moore, director of the Public Policy Center at the University of Hawaii. "She's popular, she's well respected, and she has tremendous name recognition, which you need to launch a campaign like this at the eleventh hour, and I doubt she'll have problems getting a campaign structure in place and raising money."
Takai recently announced he would not seek re-election to Congress because he's battling cancer. The deadline to file papers with the Office of Elections in Hawaii for the 1st Congressional District seat is June 7. In the past week, six candidates were issued nomination papers to run for the office, including Hawaii state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria.
In Congress, Hanabusa served on the House Committee on Armed Services and Committee on Natural Resources. When she ran for Senate, the race divided Hawaii Democrats after then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie nominated Schatz to replace Inouye after his death in 2012, despite Inouye saying he wanted Hanabusa to succeed him.
Hanabusa did not immediately return phone calls for comment.