Trade Unions To Endorse Schatz This Afternoon

A union official said the Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council and at least one of its member unions will announce this afternoon they are endorsing Sen. Brian Schatz for re-election.

The obvious question is why not wait to see if Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is running for the seat. 

"We’re trying to push her to run against the governor," said the official, who is involved in the process. "She’s not getting the endorsements from HBCT or the trade unions if she runs against the senator."

As for Schatz, the official said the 40-year-old would be in a position to build seniority and gain power in the Senate. “That’s what (the late Sen. DanieI Inouye) did. He was 30-something (when he entered Congress) and that’s how Hawaii was able to be protected.”

Civil Beat does not ordinarily grant anonymity to sources, but agreed to allow it in this case because the official was not allowed to comment before the press conference.

The trades council was an early supporter of her Congressional run last year and a number of its member unions were among the top contributors to her race. It was unknown whether this will put pressure on Hanabusa to decide whether to run for Senate or governor. The Hanabusa campaign declined to comment. Hanabusa is said to be making up her mind soon about whether to run for Senate or governor.

Schatz campaign spokesman Brandin Shim didn’t return a call for comment, but the campaign announced a 1:30 pm press conference  with the council “and many of its member unions.”

UPDATE 3:30 p.m. Asked by Civil Beat reporter Chad Blair about the suggestion that the Trades Council endorsed Schatz early in order to ward of a potential challenge from Rep. Hanabusa, Schatz declined to speculate on others who may be interested in the 2014 Senate contest. He said he welcomed the early endorsement because it was time to begin focusing on re-election.

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— Kery Murakami

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