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Daniel Akaka, the first and only Native Hawaiian to serve in the United States Senate (and one of my personal heroes), did something last month that he doesn't usually do.

He endorsed Colleen Hanabusa for the United States Senate.

What makes this so unique?  In 38 years representing Hawaii in DC (24 in the Senate and 14 in the House), he remained neutral in almost every single Democratic Primary.  (Well, except his own, when he beat Ed Case in 2006).  In supporting Hanabusa over Brian Schatz, he broke a long streak of self-imposed neutrality.

Akaka, who retired last Congress, addressed Hanabusa supporters at a July fundraiser.  He said, "She has made a great impression in the Congress of the United States.  I have many friends on the House side, and i talk with them about how our folks are doing and they tell me Colleen is doing a great job for Hawaii and expresses herself so well ... She is very, what we call, 'Hawaiian-style.' We really need someone who has been a proven leader.  And for me, Colleen has been a proven leader."

In case you're unfamiliar with Akaka's work, he was a dedicated progressive who fought tirelessly for the Native Hawaiian community, education, and the environment.  He voted against DOMA and against the Iraq War, despite tremendous pressure going the other way.  As longtime chair of the Indian Affairs Committee, he tried repeatedly to obtain federal recognition for Native Hawaiians through the "Akaka Bill"  -- a fight Hanabusa has pledged to continue.  A former high school teacher, Akaka was also one of the last Senators to serve in World War II.

Akaka has joined a growing chorus of Hawaii political figures in endorsing Colleen, including the late Senator Daniel Inouye, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, former Governor Ben Cayetano (who ran against Caldwell in last year's Mayor's race), former Governor George Ariyoshi, Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi, and Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho.

You can watch a clip of his remarks here:

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