Eight years after her father waged a losing bid for the 2nd District seat, Democrat Tulsi Gabbard captured the seat herself, following incumbent Mazie Hirono's decision to run for the Senate. The former Honolulu City Council member survived a hard-fought primary to notch an easy general-election victory in this overwhelmingly Democratic state, becoming the first Hindu in the House.
The fourth of five children, Gabbard was born in American Samoa and moved with her family to Hawaii at a young age. Her father, Mike Gabbard, was the Republican candidate for this seat in 2004 and currently serves in the Hawaii Senate; her mother, Carol Gabbard, formerly served on the state Board of Education. Both made names in Hawaii politics as strong opponents of gay marriage, a position their daughter rejects. Gabbard was homeschooled, and along with her brothers and sister, helped run a family restaurant. She graduated from Hawaii Pacific University with a bachelor's degree in business administration.
At age 19, Gabbard and her father cofounded the Healthy Hawaii Coalition, an environmental-education nonprofit that teaches elementary students about the ways humans can positively and negatively impact the environment. This focus on energy and environmental issues was evident in her campaign: She ran on investing in alternative energy as a way of diversifying Hawaii's tourism-dependent economy, as well as making the state's energy supply more secure.