Esther Kiaaina ran for the Democratic nomination for Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District in the 2012 elections. The seat opened up after Rep. Mazie Hirono announced her candidacy for retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka's post.
Kiaaina received 6 percent of the vote in the face of tough competition from former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann and Hawaii city council member Tulsi Gabbard. Gabbard, who received 54 percent of the vote, will challenge Kawika Crowley, the Republican nominee, in November 2012.
The 2nd Congressional District includes Kauai, Maui, the Big Island, Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the north and west regions of Oahu. About 680,000 people live in the district, or roughly half of all the state's residents.
Before announcing her candidacy in August 2011, Kiaaina served as chief advocate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.