LIHUE, KAUAI — U.S. Senate candidates Brian Schatz and Colleen Hanabusa went toe-to-toe here Tuesday night in the first of five scheduled joint appearances.

It’s a competitive race that has made national headlines. Just this week The New York Times suggested Gov. Neil Abercrombie might have risked his own re-election when he appointed Schatz rather than Hanabusa to the Senate to fill a vacancy.

Not just any vacancy, it was that of the revered late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

For all the talk of the intensity of the race, the Kauai forum was rather relaxed and less an exchange of differences than it was a contrast in styles and philosophies.

Hanabusa presented herself as the more experienced elected official, a person whose values and perspectives were shaped by humble beginnings in Waianae. She tended to dive into the details of policy debates, comfortable with the sometimes arcane nature of government.

Schatz is the fighter for the middle class who lives in a multi-generational household with his wife’s parents. He is more conversational than his opponent, presenting issues in personal ways that many voters can understand.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa held their first joint candidate forum in Lihue Tuesday night.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Schatz, the U.S. senator, and Hanabusa, the U.S. representative, agreed on many things.

This includes the view that Native Hawaiians should determine their own self-governance, that renewable energy is essential to Hawaii’s future and that relationships in the U.S Congress are key to coming through for folks back home.

Both candidates also say that more doctors are needed to help the military veterans waiting for care, that the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the west side of Kauai is good for local jobs and national defense, and that Social Security and other entitlements must…

Loading The First Debate: Sen. Brian Schatz Versus Rep. Colleen Hanabusa

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