HI Gov. Abercrombie selected his Lt Gov Brian Schatz as Senator Dan Inouye’s replacement in the Senate. Inouye had, in his last request, asked for Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to be named his replacement.
Schatz, 40, was elected lieutenant governor in 2010. He ran unsuccessfully to succeed U.S. Rep. Ed Case in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional seat in 2006. Schatz served as CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii, a nonprofit social service agency on Oahu. Between 1998 and 2006, Schatz spent eight years in the state House of Representatives, representing the 25th district of Tantalus, Makiki and McCully.
In 2008, he served a spokesman for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Hawaii. That same year, he was elected chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.
During a meeting earlier Wednesday to select the three finalists for Gov. Abercrombie to choose from, members of the Hawaii Democratic Party voted 48 times for Schatz, 42 for Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa and 39 for attorney Esther Kiaaina, sources said, noting the counts could be one or two votes off, since there were voice votes.
It was important for the Governor to appoint someone before all the new members are sworn in so that Hawaii could have a senior Senator (Schatz will be 13 ahead, instead of the least senior member of the Senate.) Sens. Akaka and Inouye were some of the most senior members of the Senate, and the appointment means that the 49th state will have someone better poised to get desired committees. Additionally, the newly-designated Senator Schatz will be able to vote on the fiscal cliff talks.
The appointment of Schatz over Hanabusa also means that Hawaii Dems and the DCCC do not have to worry about who would hold onto the First Congressional District. Had a special election been held, it would have been winner take all. And former Rep. Charles Djou and former Gov. Linda Lingle would have been formidable, well-funded candidates on the Republican side. (Lingle raised $5.5M for her recent Senate run.) Admittedly, the state had a special election quite recently when Rep. Abercrombie left Congress to run for Governor, which resulted in Republican Charles Djou holding the 1st CD seat for a brief jaunt, beating both Democrats – Colleen Hanabusa & former Rep. Ed Case. That is, until Nov 2010 when HI State Sen. President Colleen Hanabusa beat him in the general, after defeating Case in the Democratic primary leading up to the Nov 2010 general.
At one point, it could have been possible and a historic first methinks, for Hawaii to have an all APA female Congressional delegation (if Hanabusa had been appointed to the Senate, and if an APA woman had won her Congressional seat.)