Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard already has her work cut out for her as she tries to wade through the crowded presidential primary field.
But the congresswoman may have to face another challenge back home if she decides to run for reelection as well—a primary bid for her congressional seat.
State Sen. Kai Kahele announced his primary bid over the weekend, evoking civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.'s calls to help others, as well as lessons imparted on him by his father, the late former state Sen. Gil Kahele.
Hawaii law allows Gabbard to run for both the presidency and reelection at the same time. But Gabbard hasn't explicitly committed to running for reelection, briefly addressing the possibility during CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.
"We will cross that bridge when we get there," she said when asked if she'd seek reelection if she doesn't win the primary.
"I haven't heard from Sen. Kahele. But whatever he decides to do, I wish him well."
The primary obviously will not be an issue if Gabbard wins the presidential primary. But if not, her bid could have mixed effects on her reelection chances.
Her increased national profile could help her convince Hawaiians she'd be a powerful steward for them in Washington while also increasing her fundraising base. But national ambitions always open up a politician from attacks that they're leaving their constituents behind, a dynamic Kahele alluded to in an interview with Hawaii News Now.
“This is not about Tulsi versus Kai. I respect Tulsi and she’s made her decision to run for president. But Hawaii’s challenges don’t stop and we need somebody to represent the district in Washington D.C. if she is successful," he said.
"I'm looking forward to debating anyone that is on the ballot for the Second Congressional District in the 2020 election. And if it's Tulsi, I'm looking forward to debating and talking about the issues that we face her in Hawaii."
Hawaii's primary isn't until August 8, giving Gabbard significant time to pivot back to a reelection race if she's not successful during the presidential primary.