Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz Will Succeed Daniel Inouye in U.S. Senate

Daniel Doherty

12/26/2012 8:00:00 PM - Daniel Doherty

In a somewhat surprising maneuver, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie has chosen one of his own deputies -- Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz -- to succeed the late Daniel Inouye in the United States Senate. Politico has the scoop:

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz will fill the seat of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced Wednesday, despite a request from Inouye that Abercrombie select a different contender.

“I’m humbled and honored by this opportunity and obligation to serve the people of Hawaii and the people of America,” Schatz said at a press conference. “No one can fill Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s shoes, but together, all of us can try to walk in his footsteps.”

Earlier Wednesday, the Hawaii Democratic Party narrowed down the options for Inouye’s successor to three candidates before Abercrombie made the final gubernatorial appointment.

Schatz, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) and Esther Kia’aina, deputy director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, were selected as top contenders for the seat at a meeting of the Hawaii Democratic Party’s central committee on Wednesday, Steve Pavao, a member of the committee, confirmed to POLITICO.

Although Schatz was clearly not the late senator’s preferred choice, Governor Abercrombie's decision is final and non-negotiable:

Hanabusa was the favored pick of 88-year-old Inouye (D-Hawaii), who urged her appointment in a letter to Abercrombie before he died earlier this month.

“Senator Inouye conveyed his final wish to Governor Abercrombie,” Jennifer Sabas, Inouye’s chief of staff, said in a statement Wednesday night. “While we are very disappointed that it was not honored, it was the Governor’s decision to make. We wish Brian Schatz the best of luck.”