At the age of 21, Tulsi Gabbard was the youngest member of the Hawaii House of Representative. If elected next Tuesday, the 31-year-old could be the first Hindu and one of the youngest members of Congress.
A current Civil Beat poll shows Gabbard in a commanding lead over her Republican rival Kawika Crowley in the race for the district two seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"Going forward I feel excited about the opportunity to be in a very strong position to serve Hawaii and strong voice for Hawaii if the voters give me that privilege on November 6th," said Gabbard.
Gabbard won the Democratic nomination after she beat Mufi Hannemann in the August primary. We sat down with the candidate yards away from the state house, where Gabbard started her political career.
"I was 21-years-old I stepped way out of my comfort zone." said Gabbard.
In 2003, she stepped into to the combat zone by en-listing in the Hawaii National Guard. After two deployments to the Middle East, the army captain came back and served on the Honolulu City Council. Gabbard says one of her proudest moments at Honolulu Hale was updating a law allowing lunch trucks to park longer on public streets.
"I appreciated working with my colleagues so we could pass legislation that prevented law abiding small business owners from going to jail from just trying to make a living." said Gabbard.
The Democratic nominee wants to take her military experience to a national level.
If elected to the U.S. House, Gabbard wants to curb the number of military suicides and make the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan a high priority.
"The urgency can not be over-stated that we need to bring our troops home from Afghanistan as quickly as possible. We are seeing conditions on the ground there getting worse and not getting better," said the nominee.
Gabbard was recently thrust into the national spotlight when Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi invited her to speak at the Democratic National Convention. In recent months she's received widespread attention and has even been named "a rising star" in the Democratic Party. If elected she would be joining a Republican dominated House but Gabbard says she will use her military experience and Hawaii upbringing to help her through tough times.
"The Aloha spirit is something that gives us great strength. It's the ability to connect with people despite whatever differences might be there," said Gabbard.
The District 2 seat represents rural Oahu and the neighbor islands.