Freshman Rep. Gabbard applies for Inouye’s seat

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Newly-elected Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard applied Monday to fill the vacancy left by Sen. Daniel Inouye, who passed away last week.

Elected in November, Gabbard is already considered a rising star in the Democratic Party. She will be the first Hindu member of Congress, and, with fellow freshman Rep. Tammy Duckworth, she will be one of the first female combat veterans in Congress.

“In the military, I learned that ‘leadership’ means raising your hand and volunteering for the tough, important assignments,” Gabbard said in a statement announcing her application to fill the open seat. “Senator Inouye did that as a young man, and he inspired a generation of young soldiers like me. Now it is our responsibility to step up, for the good of Hawai`i. In that spirit, I place my name into consideration for the seat he filled so ably.”

Gabbard adds her name to several other applicants for the seat — Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Inouye’s choice to replace him in a letter written just before his death, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, Rep. Ed Case, State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, State Sen. Will Espero, and Esther Kiaaina, deputy director at the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Three nominees will be selected by the Hawaii Democratic Party and their names sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who will choose Inouye’s replacement.

Gabbard has already earned public declarations of support from another Democratic rising star, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who announced last week that he would himself pursue a Senate seat in 2014.

“Tulsi Gabbard should get that job,” he tweeted Friday, before Gabbard officially applied, when someone tweeted suggesting he move to Hawaii and run for Senate there.

“The Senate needs some ‘New’ I hope she gets it,” he tweeted later, in response to someone saying she was too new to Washington.

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