LOS ANGELES (JTA) — U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii narrowly survived a Democratic primary challenge to win the party nomination.
The victory, which was declared on Friday following a six-day delay in the completion of the statewide vote, likely clears the way for Schatz to remain in the Senate.
Schatz, who is Jewish, edged U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa with 48.5 percent of the vote to 47.8 percent. The incumbent finished 1,769 votes ahead of Hanabusa.
Voting began on Aug. 9, but some residents of the Puna district of the big island of Hawaii could not vote until Friday because of damage from Hurricane Iselle. Hanabusa unsuccessfully filed suit to block the latter vote in two precincts of Puna, arguing that the district had not sufficiently recovered to complete the vote.
Adding to the bizarre finish, 800 uncounted ballots were discovered in Maui.
Hanabusa has left open the possibility of challenging the primary results in court.
Schatz was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie in December 2012 to replace the deceased Sen. Daniel Inouye, despite Inouye’s expressed wish that Hanabusa be appointed as his successor. However, Schatz garnered the support of President Obama and many national liberal interest groups, and he substantially outraised Hanabusa.
Assuming that his nomination is not overturned in court, Schatz is widely expected to win the general election in overwhelmingly Democratic Hawaii. He would be up for reelection to a full term in 2016.