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Associated Press

HONOLULU — U.S. Rep. Kaiali’i “Kai” Kahele announced over the weekend that he will run for Hawai'i governor in the upcoming Democratic Primary.

Kahele, a Native Hawaiian representing Hawai'i’s 2nd District, told supporters on Saturday in his hometown of Hilo on the Big Island that he would run for governor, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Kahele said he was concerned that other candidates could be “owned and controlled by big money” and that “wealthy donors from the mainland” want to control the state’s economics.

He said he would not accept donations above $100 or take money from corporations, unions or political action committees.

Kahele will face Hawai'i Lt. Gov. Josh Green and former Hawai'i first lady Vicky Cayetano in the Aug. 13 election. Former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell dropped out from the race last week.

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Kahele served as a pilot in the U.S. military. He is a lieutenant colonel in the Hawai'i Air National Guard and also flies commercial routes for Hawaiian Airlines.

Kahele is one of five Indigenous voting members of Congress. Others include Reps. Tom Cole, Markwayne Mullin, Sharice Davids, and Yvette Herrell. Mullin and Herrell are Cherokee, and Davids is Ho-Chunk

Cole, Chickasaw Nation, is the senior Native member of Congress and has served Oklahoma’s 4th District since 2003.

In February, Mullin said he was running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Oklahoma. 

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Indian Country Today contributed to this report.