Rep. Hanabusa Comes Out Swinging at Sen. Schatz in First TV Debate

Hoping to shift the race’s momentum, the congresswoman stepped up her attacks on the senator she wants to replace.

·By Nick Grube

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa still doesn’t have anything nice to say about U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.

Hanabusa, who’s trailing in the polls and in fundraising, took several swipes at the sitting senator during their first televised debate Monday on KITV.

In their third encounter in a week — the first two debates were broadcast only on the radio and the Internet — Hanabusa was more restrained. But she came out swinging in this first encounter where large numbers of voters around the state were examining them side by side.

In many ways, her aggressiveness was to be expected from a challenger who needs to take an incumbent down a peg to make up lost ground. The question is whether voters liked what they saw.

When one of the three moderators asked Hanabusa to pick a positive accomplishment of her opponent, she responded with a series of backhanded compliments.

She called Schatz a political “survivor” who, after stepping down from the Hawaii House and failing to reach Congress in 2006, became chair of the state Democratic party and then lieutenant governor.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz avoid looking at each other moments before going on the air for their televised debate in the KITV studio on July 7, 2014.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

It was in that position where Hanabusa said Schatz “convinced” Gov. Neil Abercrombie to appoint him to the U.S. Senate after Daniel K. Inouye died.

“That’s an amazing feat,” Hanabusa said. “One vote created somebody as the United States senator for the state of Hawaii. That’s something you got to admire.”

It’s no

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Nick Grube

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