Gary Hooser, the director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control and a former state senator, told supporters on Sunday that he would decide within the next 30 days whether to run for Congress.
In an email message, Hooser contrasted himself with former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who has already declared in the Democratic primary in the 2nd Congressional District.
The progressive Hooser casts the more conservative Hannemann as too close to corporate interests, using the rhetoric of the Occupy Wall Street movement:
History is clear — it was not an excess of government but rather the lack of government oversight, and an excess of corporate greed that caused the great financial collapse of 2008. It is well past time to take our government back from the corporate interests that now hold the reins of power in Washington DC.
Government has failed to protect the people and government has repeatedly simply fallen into line behind the wishes and desires of those who have the money. Our government allowed the big banks, investment houses and insurance companies reap billions of dollars in profits using highly speculative methods and then when their house of cards began to fall – government bailed them out. In addition big oil continues to pollute, pharmaceutical companies continue to sell us more drugs even while blocking health care reform, and the Halliburtons of the world reap obscene profits off the death and destruction of our wars.
I have spent over 20 years owning and operating a small business and over 12 years serving in public office. I understand the need for businesses to generate a profit and operate without unnecessary interference from government, but I also believe in government’s role in protecting the rights of everyday working people and our natural environment. I am willing to ask the tough questions, increase government oversight when appropriate and hold big business accountable.
My prospective opponent in the Congressional race is of the opposite bent. There is no question that Mufi Hannemann has been a close ally to corporate interests for his entire political career and benefited from their generosity in return. He is a friend and a strong advocate for those same corporate interests that have protected the wealth of the top 1% while ignoring the plight of the 99%. Take a look at his fundraising records and you will find a veritable who’s who of powerful corporate insiders.
I would fight tirelessly on your behalf. My goal is to not just reduce the impacts of budget cuts to vital health, human services and environmental protections but to seek ways to improve these benefits and protections. If government is to provide incentives to business then it should go to support small business and local entrepreneurship. I will not hesitate to cut corporate entitlements, wasteful tax credits and increase taxes on the top 1% if that is what it takes to accomplish this.
Mufi Hannemann will not go against the businesses and benefactors that have groomed and supported him for all these years. Of this you can be sure.
Most political analysts consider Hannemann the favorite in the primary and he had an impressive fundraising quarter. Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard has picked up some labor endorsements and may emerge as an alternative to Hannemann among moderate and independent voters. Gabbard also had a solid fundraising quarter. Esther Kiaaina, chief advocate for the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and Rafael del Castillo, a patients’ rights attorney, have also declared.
Hooser, if he runs, would appeal to the progressive wing of the party. The former Kauai senator would also stress his Neighbor Island background in a district that covers rural Oahu and the Neighbor Islands.
Jonah Kaauwai, a former state GOP chairman, is thinking about a Republican campaign in the 2nd District.