Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard surged to capture the Democratic nomination in Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District Saturday, winning the primary decisively behind strong momentum and critical support from outside groups.
With all precincts reporting, Gabbard had 55 percent of the vote and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann had 34 percent, according to the Associated Press. Four other candidates divided the remainder of the vote. Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono left the seat open when she decided to run for the Senate.
Though Hannemann started the primary much better known and with a polling lead, after his mayoral stint and a number of previous runs for office that included a 2010 gubernatorial bid, Gabbard rallied progressive outside groups -- including EMILY's List, VoteVets, and the Sierra Club -- to her side against the socially conservative Hannemann. The groups ran over a half-million dollars worth of television ads on Gabbard's behalf, and they helped sink another run for higher office by Hannemann, who has been undone in Democratic primaries numerous times before.
With her primary victory in a safe Democratic seat, the 31-year-old Gabbard has excellent odds of joining the House of Representatives in 2013, where she would become the first Hindu member of Congress.