HONOLULU (July 21, 2014) – “The primary races in Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District have a full slate of worthy candidates, including seven in the Democratic contest and two each among the Republican and nonpartisan ranks. The crowded Democratic contest has attracted the most attention, naturally, and one candidate rises above the rest of a notable group. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser endorses state Rep. Mark Takai’s bid for the Democratic nomination in this important national race.
Takai, a 20-year lawmaker, lieutenant colonel in the Hawaii National Guard and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, has a strong grasp of the national issues that are most vital to Hawaii residents and a keen understanding of the relationship-building necessary to match the state’s needs with the federal resources available to fill them. One example is the six-year effort he coordinated to net more than $40 million in federal impact aid for the Hawaii Department of Education — money that made a real difference in the lives of public schoolchildren throughout the state.
If a Democrat prevails in the general election — and whoever wins the primary will face a tough fight from presumptive GOP candidate Charles Djou — Hawaii’s newest representative likely will be a minority in a bitterly partisan chamber now controlled by Republicans. We believe that Takai’s amiable but persistent style would serve Hawaii well in this divisive environment. He has not been the type to wield a cudgel, and no Democrat will have a cudgel to wield if he or she gets to Washington. Takai’s experience as a dogged consensus builder would be useful as he strives to build necessary relationships across the aisle.
The 47-year-old Takai is forgoing re-election to the state House 33rd District (Halawa-Newton-Aiea) seat he’s held since 1994 to seek the urban Oahu seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a fellow Democrat who is running for U.S. Senate. Takai is especially strong on military and veteran issues, but also takes clear-headed positions on promoting sustainability that will lower Hawaii’s cost of living, reducing homelessness and reforming U.S. immigration policies. As he told the Star-Advertiser’s editorial board, “We have to govern more to the middle.”
We’re confident that Takai is the balanced choice.”