Rep. Mark Takai will not seek re-election due to cancer

Hawaii Congressman was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year.

U.S. Rep. Mark Takai has announced that he will not seek a second term in Congress due to health problems.

Takai, who represents Hawaii's 1st district, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year. He had planned to fight the cancer while running for re-election, but recently learned the disease had spread.

US Rep. Mark Takai will not seek re-election due to cancer

"Right now, for the sake of my family, I need to focus on getting better rather than getting re-elected," Takai said in a statement Thursday. "Although I will not be running for re-election, I intend to serve out the remainder of my term in Congress. There is still much work that I am determined to see through for Hawaii and our nation over the next few months."

Mark Takai speaks to supporters after winning a U.S. Congress seat in 2014.

Takai was elected in 2014 after former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa left her seat to run for U.S. Senate.

He announced in October that he had been diagnosed with a small tumor on his pancreas, but resolved to "fight it head on." He had surgery November 10 and was back in the U.S. House to cast a vote by early December. In February, he announced that he would be running for re-election.

But on Thursday, Takai said he was re-focusing his priorities.

"In life, we often make plans for ourselves," Takai said. "I had envisioned a long career in the U.S. House of Representatives, building up the seniority and influence that were key to Senator Inouye's ability to deliver for Hawaii. But as often happens, we find ourselves on a different journey than what we had planned."

President Obama called Rep. Takai "a fighter," and thanked the congressman for his leadership and service.

"For more than 20 years, Representative Mark Takai has proudly served the people of Hawaii," President Obama said in a statement. "As a long-time Lieutenant Colonel in the Hawaii Army National Guard, as a champion for our brave men and women in uniform and our veterans, and as someone who stands up for our working families, he's always been a fighter. That's the approach he'll take to his battle with cancer, too."

"Mark is an exceptional colleague who has demonstrated an impressive work ethic and a strong commitment to improving the lives of the people of Hawaii and all Americans throughout his distinguished military and public service career," said Rep. Judy Chu, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. "On behalf of CAPAC, I thank Mark for his leadership and service to our country. I know that he will continue fighting cancer like he has fought for AAPI communities in Congress."

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