Veterans group will run ad backing Takai for Congress

 ·  Gordon Y.K. Pang, Honolulu Star-Advertiser   ·   Link to Article and its Vote Vets Action Fund will blitz the television airwaves in the next week or so with $100,000 in advertisements in support of 1st Congressional District candidate Mark Takai, the national political action committee is expected to announce Tuesday.

Takai, state representative for the 33rd District (Halawa-Aiea-Newtown), is one of seven people seeking the Demo­cratic nomination. Polls have shown him running second for the nomination behind state Senate President Donna Kim.

Takai, currently a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaii National Guard, is the only one of the Demo­crats with a military record. He served a tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, a Republican seeking the job, is a major in the Army Reserve and also served in the Middle East.

The 30-second TV ad, titled "Service," is slated to begin running Tuesday. It talks about the legendary all-Japa­nese-American 442nd Infantry Regiment and Hawaii members Daniel K. Ino­uye and Spark Matsu­naga, both of whom later became U.S. senators. "Mark Takai continues that tradition of service," the ad states., which claims to have more than 400,000 supporters, spent more than $300,000 on ads in 2012 supporting Demo­crat Tulsi Gabbard, another Iraq War veteran and member of the Army National Guard. She beat former Hono­lulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann to capture the Demo­cratic primary in 2012 on her way to winning Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District seat.

A spokesman for the group told the Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser it might buy more ads in support of Takai if it feels it would help his candidacy.

The PAC is dedicated to getting veterans elected to political office, and to keep public officials accountable to veterans.

Takai, chairman of the House Veterans and Military Affairs Committee in the state Legislature, created the Hawaii Medal of Honor, authored legislation to provide tax credits to employers who hire veterans, and helped create programs to help homeless combat veterans, the PAC said when it first endorsed the candidate in December.

Takai told the Star-Advertiser that Congress now has fewer members who are military veterans than at any time since the 1940s.

"I'm glad that veterans' issues are being addressed in this campaign," he said.

Others seeking the Demo­cratic nomination are Hono­lulu City Councilmen Ikaika Anderson, Stanley Chang and Joey Mana­han, state Rep. Will Espero and community activist Kathryn Xian. U.S. Rep. Colleen Hana­busa, the incumbent, is forgoing a re-election campaign in order to challenge U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a fellow Demo­crat.

The primary election is Aug. 9.

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