Hooser run official

State Sen. Gary Hooser, D-Kaua’i-Ni’ihau, said yesterday that he has a distinct advantage over the others who have announced they are running for the House of Representatives Seat in the 2nd Congressional District.

“I am the only Neighbor Island candidate and that gives me a huge advantage because of my different perspective,” he said Monday outside the historic county building in Lihu’e.

Hooser signed his nomination papers officially launching his campaign for the House seat at the County Elections Department early yesterday morning.

“I’m filing today to send a message that I am serious about this campaign,” Hooser said. “I am filing here (on Kaua’i) because this is home.”

Hooser believes his Neighbor Island status will be to his advantage because the larger part of the district’s constituency resides on islands other than O’ahu.

The district Hooser hopes to represent covers rural O’ahu, and the neighboring islands, including the Big Island, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kaua’i and Ni’ihau. Kaua’i represents one-twelfth of the district that is two-thirds neighboring islands. The remaining third is rural O’ahu.

“Really, it’s a win-win situation for Kaua’i,” Hooser said. “If I win, Kaua’i will gain a congressman; if I lose I will still retain my state Senate seat.”

Hooser’s perspective comes from 25 years living on Kaua’i and makes him sensitive to preserving open space, addressing agricultural issues and putting the brakes on development, he said.

“I believe we need more affordable housing, but we need to put the brakes on uncontrolled development,” Hooser said.

He fought for the money that will help build the homeless shelter and facility on the west side of Lihu’e. “I am also on the affordable housing task force,” he said.

The other five who have announced they are running for the House seat are all from Honolulu, Hooser said. Their names were unavailable, as Hooser was the first to meet the requirements to file.

Hooser decided to run for the 2nd Congressional district House seat after the current holder, Ed Case, announced in mid-January he was going to challenge Sen. Daniel Akaka D-Hawai’i, in the primary in September.

“I found out at the same time that everyone else did” that Case was going to challenge Akaka for his Senate seat, Hooser said. “I had heard the rumors for months and when he finally announced I decided to run (for his seat).”

Hooser’s state Senate seat has a four-year cycle and won’t face election again until 2008. If Case loses his challenge to Akaka, he will not retain his current seat because it is an election year for that position.

If Hooser wins the House seat in Congress the governor will appoint a Democrat to fill out the term in his state Senate seat.

Hooser said his work in the state Senate will continue unabated until the session ends sometime in May.

“After we let out in May, I will go to campaigning full-time,” Hooser said. “I’m 52 years old and I think I’m ready” for the move from state government to federal.

After signing his nomination papers at the historic county building, Hooser’s wife Claudette drove him to the airport so he could go back to work at the state government buildings in Honolulu.

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