U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said Tuesday that she would not legally challenge her Democratic primary loss to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. The congreswoman lost to Schatz by 1,769 votes. The outcome was delayed for nearly a week after the state Office of Elections allowed voters in two Puna precincts on Hawaii island struggling to recover from Tropical Storm Iselle to cast ballots in a makeup vote. The state also found about 800 previously uncounted absentee ballots on Maui. “A big mahalo to our volunteers and supporters for your hard work, sacrifice and most importantly, for your trust,” Hanabusa said in a statement. “We would not have gotten as close as we did without the love and Aloha you poured into our campaign. I will forever be humbled and inspired by your support.”
Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s arrival on the Big Island on Wednesday to address the fallout from Tropical Storm Iselle added a layer of normalcy to what so far has been surreal political theater. Many roads in the rural Puna district on the east side of the island are still closed due to fallen trees and powerlines, and thousands of people are without basic necessities, such as food, ice and running water. The governor has broad executive power to mobilize resources and spend money to help recovery efforts in some of the hardest hit communities here, a few of which could be without power for several weeks. But Abercrombie has no control over a controversial decision to hold a special election here on Friday that will decide the Senate Democratic primary race between Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.
A state Circuit Court judge on Thursday ruled that the state Office of Elections can proceed with a vote Friday for two precincts in Puna that could not open for Saturday’s primary in the wake of Tropical Storm Iselle. U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who trails U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz by 1,635 votes in the Democratic primary for Senate, had asked for a temporary restraining order to delay the vote until residents in Puna have had more time to recover from the storm. Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura said that if a popular poll were taken right now, the poll would indicate that “there’s some lack of common sense to hold the election tomorrow in light of the natural disaster caused by Iselle and people are trying to recover from the property damage caused by storm conditions, the lack of ability to freely move about, the lack of electrical power, and difficulties in regard to obtaining food and water.
Hawaii: After a Hawaii Storm, a Moment in the Sun: A Rural Area Will Cast a Close Race’s Last Votes | New York Times
Politics seldom intrudes on the easternmost district of the Big Island of Hawaii, a hard-to-reach paradise where the homes are nestled among lava-formed cliffs and the papaya and macadamia nut harvests loom larger than the machinations in Honolulu, let alone in Washington. “Traditionally, Puna is the place time forgot,” said Dawn Hurwitz, 58, who has lived here for almost half of her life. “This is the Wild West.” But nobody has forgotten about Puna this week. Last week, the area was battered by Tropical Storm Iselle, which left thousands of people without power or running water. And while residents are focused on digging out after the storm, politicians, aides and television crews have swarmed in, well aware that voters here are poised to finally decide the long, bitter Senate primary race between the incumbent, Brian Schatz, and Representative Colleen Hanabusa.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said Tuesday that she is considering a legal challenge to block Friday’s vote in two Puna precincts that could decide her Democratic primary for Senate against U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. Hanabusa said she would likely argue to delay the vote until residents who are still without power and water can recover from Tropical Storm Iselle. The congresswoman also said that voters in two other Puna precincts that did open on Saturday should also be allowed to vote if they could not get to the precincts because of blocked roads. Hanabusa trails Schatz by 1,635 votes in the primary.
A new date has been set for voting in remote Hawaii precincts that were closed on election day by a tropical storm that clobbered the area, but it’s unclear how thousands of voters will find out in time to cast ballots Friday. The sprawling Puna District could provide the deciding votes in the tight U.S. Senate race between Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. The Democratic primary was too close to call after officials tallied votes over the weekend. Election officials said Tuesday they were notifying voters by mail and contacting them in other ways. Many in the area, however, remain without power and water and say they have more immediate concerns.
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who‘s trailing in the too-close-to-call Hawaii Democratic Senate primary against incumbent Brian Schatz, warned Monday of voting “irregularities” in precincts crippled by a massive tropical storm last week and said she’s speaking with campaign lawyers about a potential recourse. “There are irregularities that have occurred in terms of just access, and I’m hoping that the Office of Elections will look at it,” Hanabusa told POLITICO in a phone interview on Monday. Although much of the focus in the wake of this past Saturday’s primary has been on two precincts in the Big Island’s Puna District — home to some 8,200 registered voters — where polls were closed Saturday because of the storm and residents will vote instead this Friday, Hanabusa’s comments indicate for the first time that she’s examining the impact in surrounding communities as well, where polls were open but some voters were unable to leave their homes.
The storm-beaten seaside communities on Hawaii’s Big Island are fighting to restore electricity and running water – and likely deciding who will hold the state’s U.S. Senate seat. Two voting precincts in the region hardest hit by Tropical Storm Iselle were closed during Saturday’s primary, and about 8,000 people were asked to vote by mail for either U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz or U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in an emotional Democratic race that is still too close to call. A Democrat is expected to end up in the seat either way, so the decision won’t likely change the balance of power in the Senate. But some argue it is giving a small number of voters in a remote part of Hawaii an inordinate amount of power. Meanwhile, voters in Puna, a remote, rural community south of Hilo, said they have other priorities – like figuring out how to bathe.
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) chose Hawaii Lieutenant Gov. Brian Schatz (D) to fill the seat left open by the death of longtime Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), deciding against Inouye’s deathbed wish that Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) succeed him. The move comes as a surprise — most expected Abercrombie to honor Inouye’s wish, delivered in a letter to the governor on the day of his death earlier this month. Abercrombie chose Schatz over Hanabusa and former congressional candidate Esther Kia’aina (D), the options presented to him by the state Democratic committee.