Posted on February 18, 2014
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (Oskar Garcia, AP)
With so much attention paid to GOP primaries, here’s a reminder that Democrats have a heated intra-party battle of their own in the Aloha State: Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is leading incumbent Sen. Brian Schatz 48%-40% in a new poll.
Schatz was appointed by Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie to the seat in December 2012 following the death of Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye. The decision sparked backlash from Inouye’s family and political allies, who made a deathbed request for Hanabusa to get the nod.
Inouye’s widow has endorsed Hanabusa, and the race is testing old racial politics in Hawaii, which has a storied history of contested Democratic primaries split between a white candidate and a candidate of Asian, Hawaiian native or Pacific Island decent. Historically, the non-white candidate has won more contested primaries.
“This is the first step in a series of polls,” Hanabusa told Hawaii News Now. “But it is really something to have (that) the people feel this way. And believe me, we are very humbled by it.”
Schatz, who declined to comment on the poll, also has less name recognition than Hanabusa. Three percent of poll respondents did not know Hanabusa, while 13% said they had never heard of Schatz.