Gary Hooser, the director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control and a former Kauai state senator, said on Saturday that he is seriously thinking about entering the Democratic primary in the 2nd Congressional District.
In an email to supporters and a post on his website, Hooser described a congressional run as “a possible path” in his political ambition.
“I am seriously considering it,” he said in an interview. “I’m asking people who have supported me in the past what they think. I’m trying to evaluate the level of support.”
Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard and state Office of Hawaiian Affairs chief advocate Esther Kiaaina have announced campaigns in the Democratic primary to replace U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, who is running for U.S. Senate.
Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann is poised to announce his intentions, perhaps by the end of the month.
Hooser would position himself as a candidate for the progressive wing of the party if he runs. He would also likely stress his Neighbor Island background to distinguish himself from the Oahu candidates.
The 2nd District covers rural Oahu and the Neighbor Islands.
Hooser was one of several Democrats who lost to Hirono in the 2nd District primary in 2006. He also lost in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor to Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz last year.
“I’m evaluating the support. I’m evaluating the field of candidates. It’s something that I think about every day, especially with everything that’s going on in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “It’s sad, depressing, and makes me a little angry at what’s going on. We need a change.”