If you didn't know better, you'd swear that the Democratic primary for the United States Senate is this year.
It's not - it's next year, 2014.
But not only has Rep. Colleen Hanabusa made it official that she will challenge incumbent Sen. Brian Schatz, both sides are already off and running raising money and seeking endorsements.
Hanabusa announced that Sen. Daniel Inouye's widow, Irene Hirano Inouye, was supporting her run for the Senate. In a release to the media, Mrs. Inouye said:
"Shortly after she was elected President of the Hawaii State Senate, Dan recognized that Colleen was more than capable of succeeding him and he began to mentor her. His last wish was that Colleen serve out his term because he was confident in her ability to step into the Senate and immediately help Hawaii. I am honoring one of his last requests, and look forward to supporting Colleen on the campaign trail."
Schatz was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to serve the remainder of Inouye's term after he died last December.
Not to be outdone in the early endorsement business, Schatz garnered the endorsement of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO) Friday. SHOPO Board President Tenari Ma'afala told Hawaii News Now, "Brian has been a consistent friend to law enforcement throughout his career. He understands the importance of a strong and well-funded police force that has the resources to protect the people of Hawaii."
So the jousting begins for the endorsements - and money - of the big players in the state's Democratic Party. It will be interesting to see who scores the most labor endorsements and big names.
Right now, the score is tied. Mrs. Inouye was a very big get for Rep. Hanabusa; SHOPO's early endorsement is a definite boost for Sen. Schatz.
It looks like it will be a long, hard-fought and bruising battle.
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