Tulsi Gabbard says she won’t seek re-election to Congress
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said in a video message late Thursday that she won’t seek re-election in her district in Hawaii so she can focus on her bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. “Throughout my life, I’ve been motivated by a desire to serve the people of Hawaii and our country, and have made my decisions based upon where I felt I could do the most good,” Gabbard said in a statement.
Gabbard was facing a primary challenge from State Senator Kai Kahele, who criticized Gabbard for spending too much time on her presidential race.
Although Gabbard brought in more than $3 million for her presidential campaign between June and September of 2019, she raised no money for a re-election campaign in that same period, according to Open Secrets. Kahele, meanwhile, raised more than $300,000 between June and September, according to Open Secrets.
Gabbard’s video message highlighted her history in the Army National Guard, deploying twice to the Middle East, and her political history. She also highlighted her anti-interventionist platform.
Gabbard, 38, was elected to Congress in 2012, when she unseated veteran Hawaii politician Mufi Hannemann in a primary. Her district includes rural and suburban Oahu, all of Maui County, Hawaii County and Kauai County.
While Gabbard has been polling in the low single digits nationally, she was one of the 12 Democrats to clear the fundraising and polling thresholds for the October debate.
She drew national attention this past week after Hillary Clinton suggested Republicans were “grooming” a candidate for a third-party presidential run, and that the candidate was a “favorite of the Russians.” While Clinton didn’t specifically mention Gabbard, Gabbard immediately fought back, calling Clinton the “queen of warmongers.” And on CBSN last week, Gabbard said, “Come on, let’s be real here. Look at every single headline that’s come out of her comments on that podcast. Every single one has my name in there.”
Once considered a rising star in the Democratic party, Gabbard gave up a leadership position in the Democratic National Committee to back Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary.
Gabbard’s foreign policy proposals have thrust her into the spotlight over the years, including being criticized for her seeming support for Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad. She traveled to Syria to meet with him and has openly questioned U.S. intelligence conclusions that Assad carried out chemical weapons attacks on his own people.
Correction: This article has been updated to correct and clarify Hillary Clinton’s comments about Tulsi Gabbard.