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BREAKING: Lt. Gov. Schatz Named to Fill Inouye’s US Senate Vacancy

December 26, 2012, 2:04 PM HST · Updated December 26, 2:28 PM
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Brian Schatz (left) will fill the vacancy created by the passing of US Senator Daniel Inouye (rt.). Schatz file photo by Wendy Osher; Inouye file courtesy photo.

By Wendy Osher

Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz was selected today to fill the US Senate vacancy created by the recent passing of US Senator Daniel Inouye.

The announcement was made by Governor Neil Abercrombie during a press conference this afternoon.

Schatz said he plans to leave on a flight to Washington, DC tonight, and begin the work of the US Senate on behalf of Hawaii’s people. Over the next year he said one of the critical priorities will be to identify funding streams to Hawaii, and stabilize them as much as possible.

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Schatz was among 14 people who had applied for the vacancy, and one of three finalists considered by the governor.  Other finalists selected by the Hawaii Democratic Party’s state central committee included US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, and Hawaii Land and Natural Resources Deputy Director Esther Kiaaina.

The next in line to fill the now-vacant lieutenant governor’s position is the state’s Senate president, Senator Shan Tsutsui of Maui. The law states that Tsutsui must make his decision on whether to fill the post “promptly,” according to Abercrombie.

Schatz was inaugurated to his current post on Dec. 6, 2010. In addition to his responsibilities as deputy to Governor Abercrombie, Schatz is also currently tasked with helping to lead the state’s clean energy efforts and Asia-Pacific relations.

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Schatz is credited with launching the Hawai’i Fair Share Initiative, which seeks more private and public investment in Hawai’i.

Before being elected lieutenant governor, he served for eight years as the CEO of Helping Hands Hawai’i, one of Hawaii’s largest non-profit community social services organizations.

From 1998 to 2006, Schatz served as a member of the State House of Representatives for the 25th district. While in the state House, Schatz served as the House majority whip, chair of the Economic Development Committee, vice-chair of Water, Land and Ocean Resources, vice-chair of Consumer Protection and Commerce, and as a member of the Hawaiian Affairs, Higher Education, Energy and Environmental Protection, and Agriculture committees.

Schatz was raised in Hawai’i, and graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, California.

Statement issued by Governor Neil Abercrombie:

“Today, I will inform the leadership of the United States Senate that I have appointed Brian Schatz as the next United Sates Senator from Hawaii. I make this decision with full confidence that Brian’s appointment is in the best interest of the State of Hawaii and the nation.

“As Lieutenant Governor, Brian has demonstrated all of the qualities Hawaii could ask for in a Senator: respect for our traditions and a strong sense of values, remarkably strong character and problem-solving capacities, and above all an abiding love for and commitment to the people of our state. Brian Schatz will do us proud.

“These are challenging times for Hawaii. We are mourning the loss of Sen. Daniel Inouye, a leader who gave a lifetime of selfless service to our country. At the same time, this is an opportunity to build on the remarkable foundation Sen. Inouye laid. It is an opportunity to shape a prosperous and vibrant future for our state.

“In the US House, Hawaii will benefit from the continued leadership of Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa as she keeps building on her service on the House Armed Services Committee that is so vital to our state,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Without her in that capacity, we would have no one in the House or Senate serving in this critical position.

“In the US Senate, we expect great things of Senator-Elect Mazie Hirono. She, like Senators Inouye and Akaka, brings a lifetime of distinguished public service to this new role.

“Hawaii also awaits the dynamic promise of Congresswoman-Elect Tulsi Gabbard, representing a new generation of leadership, rooted firmly in the timeless traditions of Hawaii.

“With today’s appointment, I am confident Hawaii has the strongest, best-prepared congressional delegation to lead us today, and the strongest, most well-rounded congressional delegation for Hawaii in the years to come.”

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