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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 10, 2006

Menor, Schatz file for U.S. House run

By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer

Two state lawmakers, Sen. Ron Menor and Rep. Brian Schatz, filed papers yesterday to run in the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District, while two other prominent Democrats confirmed their interest in the race.

Menor, D-17th (Mililani, Wai-pi'o), said he wanted to take his work on consumer and healthcare issues to the U.S. Congress.

"I understand many of the key issues because I live them," Menor said in a statement. "Providing care for my mom, who needs the benefits of Medicare and other elder programs, helps me see how vital these are to our seniors and their caregivers. And with three boys in school and my wife, Pat, teaching at Helemano Elementary School in Whitmore Village on O'ahu, I know all too well the importance of education and the challenges young families face."

Menor, the chairman of the Senate Consumer Protection and Housing Committee, has been a leader in the Legislature on healthcare, gas price regulation and affordable housing.

Unlike Menor, who can stay in the Senate if he loses, Schatz, D-25th (Makiki, Tantalus), will have to give up his House seat to run for Congress, which he said shows his commitment. "This is a historic election and it's an opportunity for the state to send someone to Congress who can be a forceful advocate for Hawai'i's values," Schatz said.

Menor and Schatz become the second and third Democrats to officially enter the race to replace U.S. Rep. Ed Case, who is giving up his seat to run against U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. State Sen. Gary Hooser, D-7th (Kaua'i, Ni'ihau), filed papers earlier this week.

With a coveted seat in Congress open, several Democrats are expected to enter the race for the September primary.

Matt Matsunaga, a former state senator who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor and Congress, said he is talking with friends and family about a campaign. He finished second to Case in a January 2003 special election to replace the late U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink. "At this point I'd say it's probable," Matsunaga said.

State Rep. Roy Takumi, D-36th (Pearl City, Palisades), the House Education chairman and one of the most respected lawmakers at the Capitol, also is contemplating a campaign. "I want to focus on education and my work during the session, but I am thinking about it," Takumi said.

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.