Hanabusa is impressive

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s challenge to wrest Hawaii’s U.S. Senate seat from Brian Schatz is an uphill battle but the congresswoman is confident her grassroots campaign will succeed.

Hanabusa stopped by the offices of The Maui News on Wednesday afternoon and we had to a chance to chat with her for a little over an hour.

When asked why she would be a better senator than Schatz, the congresswoman said that her record proved she was a better and more experienced legislator than the man named to replace the late Sen. Daniel Inouye.

Hanabusa pointed out that she and Schatz entered the state Legislature the same year (1998).

By the time she left the state Legislature to run for the 1st District congressional seat in 2010, she had been vice chairwoman of Ways and Means, co-chair of the Joint Senate-House Investigative Committee on the Felix Consent Decree, co-chair of the Joint Task Force on Ice and Drug Abatement and chairwoman of the Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee.

She served as majority leader and vice president of the state Senate.

In 2007, Hanabusa became president of the Senate – the first woman to hold such a post in Hawaii’s history. She held that position until her successful run for Congress.

Hanabusa was Inouye’s choice to succeed him in Washington. Gov. Neil Abercrombie, though, tapped then-Lt. Gov. Schatz to finish the late senator’s term.

Hanabusa still speaks effusively about her mentor, Inouye. She pointed out to us how the late Hawaii senator is held in great esteem not only by Washingtonians, but by world leaders from the Far East to Israel.

She made clear that she wants to continue Inouye’s work not just in defense, but also in areas like STEM education and ocean protection.

While Schatz may currently have a huge lead in contributions, the challenger we saw Wednesday afternoon is an intelligent, enthusiastic and experienced politician.

It should be a great race.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.