Will Hanabusa’s Push in Puna Be Enough?

In the Hawaii Senate race, Brian Schatz holds a narrow lead over the congresswoman, but it might be enough to keep him in office.

·By Nick Grube

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz embraced U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono on Saturday night and told her he was replaying the events of a colleague’s life.

“I feel like Al Franken,” he said.

Franken is Minnesota’s junior senator, who in 2008 was locked in a tight race with Republican Norm Coleman. They were separated by only a handful of votes, and it took nearly nine months and a lawsuit to settle who won.

Schatz finds himself in a similarly close race.

Colleen Hanabusa and Brian Schatz hug at the Democratic Party Unity Breakfast the morning after the primary.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

He leads U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa by 1,635 votes and there are two precincts on the Big Island where registered voters have yet to cast all their ballots. Tropical Storm Iselle caused state elections officials to shut down polling stations in those precincts.

While Schatz has significantly more padding than Franken — who ultimately won by 312 votes — there’s some potential narrowing on the way.

There are about 8,200 registered voters in the Puna district on the Big Island where voting has been extended.

Voters who did not already cast absentee ballots or participate in early walk-in voting will be able to vote by mail possibly as soon as this week.

Both Schatz and Hanabusa plan to be on the ground to capture as many of these votes as possible.

That means lots of door knocking and maybe even some sign waving.

“The one thing I learned about this race is that the neighbor islands always feel that we

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Nick Grube

Nick Grube is a reporter for Civil Beat. You can reach him by email at nick@civilbeat.com or follow him on Twitter at @nickgrube.
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