Gabbard crushed political veteran Mufi Hannemann in the August 2012 primary, receiving 54 percent of the vote while Hannemann received 34 percent. In the general election, she faced only token competition in Republican Kawika Crowley. She defeated him by a landslide, gaining 77 percent of the vote, to Crowley's 19 percent.
Before Gabbard was elected to Congress, she represented District 6 on the Honolulu City Council, a post she held since January 2011.
District 6 covers a portion of Makiki, Downtown Honolulu, Punchbowl, Liliha, Pauoa Valley, Nuuanu, Alewa Heights, Papakolea, Kalihi Valley and some of Kalihi.
Gabbard was born in Leoaloa, American Samoa in 1981 but moved to Hawaii with her family when she was 2 years old. Settling in Wahiawa, the family maintained two small businesses, including Hawaiian Toffee Treasures. Her father, Mike Gabbard, has also gained a presence in local politics, serving on the Honolulu City Council between 2003 and 2005 and on the state Senate for District 19 since 2006.
At age 19, Tulsi Gabbard co-founded Healthy Hawaii Coalition, a nonprofit aimed at protecting the environment and advocating individual and community health.
She was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2002, representing District 42 in West Oahu and serving on the Education, Higher Education, Tourism and Economic Development committees. Just 21 years old at the time, she was the youngest person ever elected to the Hawaii Legislature.
She joined the National Guard in 2003. A year later, she volunteered to serve in the war in Iraq and gave up her position in the Legislature. Gabbard continues to serve as a captain in the Hawaii National Guard's 29th Brigade Combat Team.
Gabbard moved to Washington, D.C., in 2006 to serve as a legislative aid to Sen. Daniel Akaka, advising him on issues surrounding energy independence, homeland security, the environment and veteran affairs.
In 2007 she attended the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at Ft. McClellan, Alabama and was the first female Distinguished Honor Graduate in the 50-year history of the Academy.
After being deployed to the Middle East for a second time in 2008, she returned to Hawaii to complete a degree in international business from Hawaii Pacific University. In 2010, she was elected to the Honolulu City Council.