By Malia Zimmerman | Watchdog.org
HONOLULU — U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., is back on her home turf campaigning for Lt. Col. Mark Takai, a Hawaii state representative and member of the Hawaii Army National Guard, in his bid for Congressional District 1.
She and the newly formed “Veterans for Takai” want to help Takai, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, raise money for what is out to be a competitive race in the Democratic primary.
“I’m standing with Mark Takai today because he offers two things this Congress is lacking – courage and the ability to get things done,” Duckworth said.
In 2004, Duckworth was commander of a Black Hawk helicopter unit in Iraq when the helicopter she was piloting was hit by an insurgent’s rocket-propelled grenade. The attack left without her legs and only partial use of her right arm, but she helped her co-pilot land the aircraft saving the lives of her crew. As a result, Duckworth was awarded combat medals and a Purple Heart. She later served as assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs under President Barack Obama, before winning her 2012 congressional race.
Takai and Duckworth have known each other for years. Both are University of Hawaii graduates and served together as student leaders.
Elected to the state House of Representatives 19 years ago, Takai has championed veterans issues, including establishing the Veterans Court to connect veterans in need with the social services and medical care as well as programs that combat veteran homelessness. Takai also founded the annual Hawaii Medal of Honor ceremony, which honors service members with ties to Hawaii who have died in combat.
“Mark has served with me in uniform in the Middle East, and in his two decades in the Hawaii State House he’s stood up for our fellow vets, authored the state’s College Savings Program and led initiatives to protect retirement security and to create a new clean energy economy,” Duckworth said.
Takai said he was “proud and honored” to be endorsed by Duckworth, “a true American hero.”
“I can’t wait to stand side-by-side with Tammy Duckworth in Congress to protect our fellow vets, and work together on the things we both care passionately about like making college more affordable, creating new clean energy jobs and ensuring our seniors are not asked to pay more because the wealthiest Americans are not paying their fair share,” Takai said.
Takai will be taking on a number of fellow Democrats in race including Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, Senator Will Espero, Honolulu City Council members Ikaika Anderson and Stanley Chang and community activist Kathryn Xian. No Republicans have announced their intention to run in the election.
Contact Malia Zimmerman at Malia@hawaiireporter.com