HONOLULU – State Rep. Mark Takai continues to gain momentum in the race for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District, adding the endorsement of actor George Takei, LBGT rights activist and entertainment icon.

“On Aug. 9, Hawaii voters have a chance to stand up for equality for everyone, by voting for a strong representative of progressive values. They have a clear choice for Congress in Mark Takai,” Takei said.

“It’s an honor to receive the endorsement of George Takei,” Takai said. “I am very proud to have George Takei’s endorsement, the endorsement of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, as well as a wide base of support across Hawaii and the country.”

Mark Takai
Mark Takai

“As a state representative, Mark Takai has fought not only for equality, but also for seniors, veterans, and working families,” Takei said. “His military service and unwavering support for equality for all Americans make him an outstanding candidate. We need more progressive champions like Mark Takai in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

“The endorsement of George Takei is proof that we are the campaign with the forward momentum that best represents core Democratic values,” Takai added.

Takai also has received endorsements from seven current members of Congress: Reps. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), Mike Honda (D-San Jose), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Mark Takano (D-Riverside).

“Mark Takai shares my commitment to solving our nation’s biggest challenges and the willingness to work with anyone who loves this country to get her moving again,” Duckworth said. “That’s an attitude we could use a lot more of in Congress right now. I know Mark will be an excellent representative and I couldn’t be prouder to support him.”

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) recently contributed to Takai’s congressional campaign. Israel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, donated $1,000 from his New York Jobs PAC.

“I am grateful to Chairman Israel for his support,” Takai said. “Hawaii’s needs will not be met by bullying, intimidation, scare tactics, or partisan games. Knowing that we (Hawaii) will have friends in Congress from Day One is very important.”

A great-grandson of immigrants from Japan, Takai and his family were named the Hawaii Jaycees Family of the Year in 1976. At Pearl City High School and the University of Hawaii at Manoa, he distinguished himself as a swimming champion, student body president and editor of the school newspaper.

Takai has served as a member of the Hawaii National Guard for 14 years. He is currently a lieutenant colonel and works as a preventive medical officer. He deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009 and served as president of the Hawaii National Guard Association in 2012-2013.

First elected to the Hawaii House of Representatives in 1994 at the age of 27, Takai served as vice speaker from 2005 to 2006 and is currently chairman of the House Committee on Veterans, Military and International Affairs. He has worked to alleviate homelessness among returning vets, and helped to create the Veterans Court, which combines the efforts of the state courts with the federal VA social services. He also created the Hawaii Medal of Honor to recognize fallen soldiers and their families.

Takai and his wife, Sami, have a son, Matthew, and a daughter, Kaila, who attend a public school in Aiea.

Crowded Field

With Saturday’s primary expected to proceed despite the storms, voters will decide which two candidates from a crowded field will be in the general election for the 1st Congressional District.

The district, which covers urban Oahu, is currently represented by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who is giving up her seat to run for Senate against incumbent and fellow Democrat Brian Schatz.

In addition to Takai, the Democratic congressional candidates are:

• State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, who represents District 14. First elected in 2000, she served as Senate vice president from 2011 to 2013 and has served as president since 2013. She also served in the Hawaii House of Representatives (1982-1985) and on the Honolulu City Council (1985-2000).

• State Sen. William Espero, who represents District 19. First elected in 2002, he serves as majority floor leader. He served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1999 to 2002.

• Honolulu City Councilmember Stanley Chang, who represents District 4. He was first elected in 2010.

• Honolulu City Councilmember Ikaika Anderson, who represents District 3. He was first elected in 2009.

• Honolulu City Councilmember Joe Manahan, who represents District 2. First elected to the council in 2012, he served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 2006 to 2012 and was vice speaker from 2011 to 2012.

• Kathryn Xian, a progressive activist and women’s advocate.

The main Republican candidate is Charles Djou, who won a special election to represent the 1st Congressional District in 2010 after Neil Abercrombie resigned to run for governor. He lost to Hanabusa in the general election, won the Republican nomination for the congressional seat in 2012, and lost to Hanabusa again.

Republican Allan Levene, a technology businessman, has declared his candidacy for congressional seats in Hawaii, Georgia, Minnesota and Michigan.

Also on the ballot are independents Calvin Griffin and Robert Meyer.

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