WASHINGTON – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, announced early Friday on Twitter that she won’t run for reelection to Congress as she continues her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Gabbard faced a Democratic primary challenge from Hawaii state Sen. Kai Kahele, who has lashed out at her for missing votes while on the presidential campaign trail.
Gabbard cited her presidential bid in her decision not to seek another term.
“Throughout my life, the thought of a ‘political career’ never crossed my mind. I’ve always done my best to serve where I felt I could make the most impact,” Gabbard said in a video. “It’s this principle of service above self that has motivated the decisions I’ve made throughout my life.”
Gabbard, 38, served in Iraq with the Hawaii Army National Guard and was the youngest person to win a seat in the Hawaii legislature. In 2013, she became the first Hindu woman in Congress.
She has staked out an idiosyncratic position in the Democratic Party, criticizing military intervention overseas and embracing left-leaning domestic policy.
Gabbard has also drawn harsh rebukes for traveling to Syria in 2017 to meet with Bashar Assad and for advocating against arming and assisting the rebels battling Assad’s regime.
Last week, Hillary Clinton suggested that Russia might promote Gabbard as a third-party candidate to sow chaos in the 2020 presidential election. Gabbard has denied considering a third-party bid, and multiple Democratic presidential contenders defended her from Clinton’s claims.
Hours before announcing that she would not seek another term in Congress, Gabbard appeared on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show Thursday night to criticize Democrats for holding impeachment hearings in private.
“That inquiry needs to be done in a very narrowly focused way and it must be done transparently. I don’t know what’s going on in those closed doors,” she said. “I think that the American people deserve to know exactly what the facts are, what the evidence is that’s being presented as this inquiry goes on.”
In Hawaii, her primary challenger has steadily hammered her over the time she’s spent campaigning for president.
“Appearing on national television the night before is not an excuse to miss work,” Kahele told the Honolulu Star Advertiser on Oct. 16 after Gabbard missed a vote on a House resolution condemning President Donald Trump for pulling American troops from northern Syria. “The people of Hawaii deserve a representative who is committed full-time to this job.”
On Friday morning, Kahele praised Gabbard’s decision to drop out of the race.