By OSKAR GARCIA
HONOLULU — U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii says she plans to run against fellow Democrat and incumbent U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in 2014, setting up a primary battle between two of the state’s four federal lawmakers.
Hanabusa told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that she believes Hawaii voters didn’t really have a chance to weigh in when Schatz was appointed to replace Sen. Daniel Inouye. Inouye died in December.
“This is an opportunity and I feel the people have not had the chance to speak,” Hanabusa said. “We are going to afford them that opportunity.”
Hanabusa said that while she disagrees with Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s pick of Schatz, then his lieutenant governor, she acknowledges it was his decision to fill the seat.
“That doesn’t then somehow say that Brian is entitled to that seat and that he is an incumbent in the true sense of the word,” Hanabusa said.
Hanabusa says Hawaii’s delegation became younger after Inouye died and that she has the most experience of any candidate.
Inouye sent Abercrombie a letter just before he died saying his last wish was to have Hanabusa appointed to replace him. Hanabusa says that’s an endorsement she cherishes.
The 2014 race will determine who holds the seat the next two years, the final run of Inouye’s original term. The seat will be up for election again in 2016.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Schatz had $1 million in campaign cash as of March 31, compared with nearly $249,000 for Hanabusa.