Hanabusa and Schatz heading to Puna to campaign

hanabusa-schatz

There’s one race that’s still undecided, and we won’t know the winner for several weeks.

That’s the race for a seat in the U.S. Senate between Democrats Brian Schatz and Colleen Hanabusa. The voting was halted because of damage from Tropical Storm Iselle.

As of now, Schatz has a slim lead over Hanabusa of 1,635 votes.

KHON2 News spoke with the two candidates, who talked about their strategy from here on in.

The primary battle between Democrats Brian Schatz and Colleen Hanabusa will come down to two precincts in Puna on the Big Island that have yet to vote. There are about 8,000 registered voters in that area and many have not yet cast a ballot.

Democrats gathered for the traditional Unity breakfast Sunday morning, a celebration that usually puts aside their differences from the primary race, and look ahead to the general election.

But in this case, Schatz and Hanabusa have some unfinished business. Although they made it clear that public safety has to take priority over politics.

“We got to think about the people first and know what they are dealing with, and water and just getting the roads cleared, those are the things that are more important,” said Hanabusa.

“Making sure that the people in those communities are back up and running with electricity and water and ice and food and supplies as soon as possible, and then of course we’re going get into it,” Schatz said. “We’re going to have an election to conduct.”

An election that will be conducted through mail-in voting because of the storm damage.

The candidates will also have to rely on grass roots campaigning by going door-to-door to get their message out. Both of them say this style plays up to their strength.

“That was all I did,” said Schatz. “I would just knock on people’s doors and ask for their support, and so this is going back to my roots in 1998 when I first ran for the legislature.”

“It’s a former sugar plantation town and and we’ve been in the district just two weeks ago,” Hanabusa said.

Hawaii Pacific University professor and political analyst John Hart broke the race down on what could ultimately decide who moves on to the general election.

“When you look at the Puna district, it looks like it’s a Caucasian and Hawaiian district, which if trend data holds, those people will tend to vote for Schatz,” Hart said. “Will enough of them do that to overcome the absentee advantage Hanabusa tends to have?”

In the meantime, the Republican candidate running for the U.S. senate seat is Cam Cavasso, who received more than 25,000 votes in the primary.

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