WASHINGTON — Rep. Mark Takai (D-Hawaii) announced Thursday that he will not be running for re-election.
“It has been my greatest privilege to serve the people of Hawaii for the past 20 years,” he said in a statement. “As your congressman, I made it my mission to always put Hawaii and her people first.
“In life, we often make plans for ourselves. I had envisioned a long career in the U.S. House of Representatives, building up the seniority and influence that were key to Sen. [Daniel] Inouye’s ability to deliver for Hawaii. But as often happens, we find ourselves on a different journey than what we had planned.
“When I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, my family and I resolved to fight it head-on and with deep personal faith. Today, we find ourselves at a crossroads. I had truly hoped to aggressively fight this cancer while seeking re-election, but I recently learned that my cancer has spread.
“Putting Hawaii and its people first means that I must regretfully withdraw from my 2016 re-election race for Congress and suspend my campaign. Right now, for the sake of my family, I need to focus on getting better rather than getting re-elected.
“Although I will not be running for re-election, I intend to serve out the remainder of my term in Congress. There is still much work that I am determined to see through for Hawaii and our nation over the next few months.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank my family, friends, and supporters for their unwavering love and support. My time in public service has been an incredible journey, all made possible by my wife Sami, my children, Matthew and Kaila, my parents, siblings, and the many individuals who are family to me, either by blood, or by kinship.
“To my supporters, I say a heartfelt ‘Mahalo!’ You have been the foundation upon which my 20-plus years of public service has been built. Thank you for your love, friendship, and continued prayers.
“At this time, I ask for continued respect of our family’s privacy as we move forward with treatment. Aloha.”
Takai was a 20-year member of the Hawaii State House of Representatives before being elected to Congress in 2014. He defeated Republican Charles Djou to succeed fellow Democrat Colleen Hanabusa, who vacated the 1st Congressional District seat to run for Senate. In February, Takai said he would seek a second term.
“For many years Mark Takai has wholeheartedly served the people of Hawaii, and our communities are better off because of his tireless efforts,” said Hawaii Gov. David Ige. “I thank him for his military service to our nation, his skilled representation of his constituents in Congress, and his advocacy on behalf of Aiea/Pearl City residents at the State Legislature. He has been a valued colleague and generous friend to me, and I wish him well as he focuses on his health and family.”
“Mark has served our state and our country honorably as a public servant, elected official, and a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaii Army National Guard,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). “He has an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of Hawaii families. I have worked closely with Mark for many years on education reform, and especially on Impact Aid for Hawaii’s schools when I served in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I will miss him in this arena as a strong partner on issues we both care deeply about, and will continue to do so through the rest of his term. I have affectionately called Mark my younger brother for many years and I wish Mark and his family all the best.”
“It has been my honor and a true pleasure to work alongside Mark over the years,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). “He is a great teammate and has served the people of Hawaii with integrity and aloha. I know this was a difficult decision, and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
“Mark is a dear friend and colleague, and my prayers are with him and his family during this difficult time,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). “We’ve served together over the years in many capacities — as colleagues in the Hawaii State House, as soldiers in the Hawaii Army National Guard, and now in Congress. Mark has a servant’s heart and has dedicated his life to working for the people of Hawaii.
“Now we can show our thanks to him and his family for their service by supporting them and their decision in every way possible. I look forward to continuing to work with Mark in Congress for the remainder of his term, ensuring that our constituents in Hawaii are served and heard.”
Floyd Mori, president and CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), commented, “We support this difficult decision and yet we will miss that great aloha spirit that he brought to Congress. We trust that his personal strength, the healing power of modern medicine, and the great power of prayer will sustain him and provide a path for healing.
“We look forward to seeing him at work in Congress for the remaining months of this session. We love him and admire his commitment to the citizens of this nation. Hang in there, Mark Takai!”