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Hanabusa wins election to return to US House immediately

November 9, 2016

Former U.S. Rep Colleen Hanabusa is seen at her campaign headquarters, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

HONOLULU (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who is returning to the seat she once held in the U.S. House, says she’s happy to go back to Washington, but she’s less happy that Republican Donald Trump was elected president.

“I just didn’t expect the rest of the nation to vote as resoundingly as they did,” Hanabusa said shortly after results of her own election were announced. “It’s just a statement about how they feel. And when you think about the things that he said and he stood for, it’s got to give everyone cause to just pause and think about, ‘What are we saying to the world, what are we saying to each other?’”

Hanabusa, a Democrat, easily won the Hawaii general election Tuesday in the deeply blue state.

Hanabusa also won the special election to fill the late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai’s seat between now and January, when the next term begins, and said she will likely head to Washington this weekend. Takai died in July.

“Our victory is also bittersweet, because we’re here because of the unfortunate untimely passing of Mark Takai, and that’s not something I ever forget,” Hanabusa said. “But I am humbled by the fact that the voters of Congressional District 1 have felt that I am the person to represent them in the Congress of the United States.”

Hawaii Kai resident Aulani Wilhelm said she cast her ballot for Hanabusa because she’s been a public servant for a long time and is “incredibly smart.”

“I think that she has really proven to deeply care about Hawaii and our people,” said Wilhelm, who works in natural resource management. “I don’t always agree with her politics, but I agree with her record of putting Hawaii forward and fighting for Hawaii.”

Hanabusa had served in the U.S. House from 2011 until 2015, but gave up her seat to run for Senate, hoping to fulfill the dying wish of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye. She lost that 2014 election by less than a percentage point to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.

Takai replaced Hanabusa, but he decided not to seek re-election while battling pancreatic cancer. Hanabusa chose to run for her old seat, with Takai’s blessing.

“I was so happy with Mark Takai, I couldn’t believe he passed away,” said Vicky Moore, 69, of Hawaii Kai. Moore voted for Republican Shirlene Ostrov, not Hanabusa, in part because she didn’t like the idea that the late Inouye, who wanted Hanabusa to succeed him, should influence the vote. “Dan Inouye isn’t the voter. We are the voter,” Moore said.

Hanabusa, an attorney who recently began serving as chairwoman of the board of Honolulu’s troubled rail transit project, was largely seen as a shoo-in for the seat in largely Democratic Hawaii.

While in Congress, Hanabusa served on the House Armed Services and the Natural Resources committees, and she hopes to serve on them again.

Hanabusa beat Ostrov, a retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force who served for 23 years. She also beat non-partisan candidate Calvin Griffin and Libertarian Alan Yim.

Hanabusa says she wants to steer federal dollars to Hawaii, including funding to build two nuclear submarines a year and financing renewable energy projects in the military.

She plans to push legislation asking the federal government to reimburse Hawaii and other states for providing health care to citizens from Micronesia who live and work in the U.S. in exchange for military control in their region.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard defeated Angela Aulani Kaaihue, who ran as a Republican in this race, to represent Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District.

Gabbard was elected to the U.S. House in 2012 as one of the first female combat veterans to serve in Congress, after deploying to Iraq and Kuwait.

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Associated Press writers Audrey McAvoy and Jennifer Sinco Kelleher contributed to this report.

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