Senator Daniel Akaka: a day in the life - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Senator Daniel Akaka: a day in the life

In January, Senator Daniel Akaka will leave office after serving 36 years in Congress.

Hawaii News Now was given exclusive access to shadow the Senator in our Nation's Capitol, and what we found was an 88 year old who's still as dedicated to the job as ever.

Daniel and Millie Akaka ride into Washington everyday from their home in Alexandria, Virginia. Once a week, they leave especially early - so the Senator can attend his weekly prayer breakfast. "Since I've come to the Senate, I've introduced the singing of hymns," says Akaka. In fact, he's song leader at the Wednesday meetings.

Faith and his deeply religious roots in Kawaiahao church play a big role in how he legislates today, and it may be why he's known around the halls of Congress as ‘Mr. Aloha'. "Because of my upbringing, I felt my life was devoted to service and this was service to our country and service to Hawaii," he says.

On any given day, the Akakas open the DC office to ‘talk story' with constituents who visit from home. You don't see many spouses on the Hill during work hours, but the Senator likes his wife close by. "He told me, 'No, you have to come up and be with me and take care of me'. I said, 'Okay.' So, I'm up here to make sure that he has his lunch and do other things around here."

Akaka has walked these halls of Congress for nearly four decades - 13 years in the house, 23 in the Senate.

Through the years, he has served alongside Senator Daniel Inouye, countless other Congressmembers, and six Presidents. At 88, he still moves tirelessly from staff meeting to group conference to committee hearing. On the day we followed him from home, he started around 7:00 a.m. and finished after 9:30 at night.

"Even when I know that he's absolutely exhausted, when we've had long days, whatever event that we have, he will always stay, for as long as necessary, to take photos and greet everyone who's there," says press secretary, Jesse Broder Van Dyke.

Even heading from one event to another morphs into a meet-and-greet for the Senator. Staffmembers consider themselves part of the Akaka ohana and are genuinely devoted to their boss.

Senior legislative assistant, Lopaka Baptiste, says "He knows his staff. When you go in and you have something official you want to talk to him about, he also just wants to talk to you as a person."

More than one person told us there are show horses and work horses on Capitol Hill, and Senator Akaka is the latter. He'd probably tell you that himself - but he's too busy heading off to a vote.

Tune in Wednesday, November 21st, as Capitol Hill colleagues - from Dan Inouye to John McCain to Al Franken - give their take on Akaka's legacy.

And in the coming weeks, Hawaii News Now will air a special presentation, "Senator Daniel Akaka: The Aloha Statesman". You won't want to miss these profiles on his long and illustrious career.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

  • Hawaii News Now headlinesNewsMore>>

  • Similar slayings draw vastly different political reaction

    Similar slayings draw vastly different political reaction

    Wednesday, September 19 2018 1:07 AM EDT2018-09-19 05:07:30 GMT
    Wednesday, September 19 2018 3:38 PM EDT2018-09-19 19:38:52 GMT
    (Luke Lu/Iowa State University via AP). In this Sept. 7, 2017, photo provided by Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena poses for a photo. The former ISU golfer was found dead Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, at a golf course in Ame...(Luke Lu/Iowa State University via AP). In this Sept. 7, 2017, photo provided by Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena poses for a photo. The former ISU golfer was found dead Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, at a golf course in Ame...

    Former inmate Collin Richards was charged with stabbing Celia Barquin to death during a random attack while she was golfing by herself in broad daylight on Monday morning.

    More >>

    Former inmate Collin Richards was charged with stabbing Celia Barquin to death during a random attack while she was golfing by herself in broad daylight on Monday morning.

    More >>
  • Trump says 'hard to imagine' Kavanaugh assaulted woman

    Trump says 'hard to imagine' Kavanaugh assaulted woman

    Wednesday, September 19 2018 12:37 AM EDT2018-09-19 04:37:34 GMT
    Wednesday, September 19 2018 3:30 PM EDT2018-09-19 19:30:43 GMT
    (AP Photo/Alex Brandon). In this Sept. 6, 2018 photo, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh reacts as he testifies after questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Official Washington is scrambling Monday to assess...(AP Photo/Alex Brandon). In this Sept. 6, 2018 photo, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh reacts as he testifies after questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Official Washington is scrambling Monday to assess...

    Trump has already rejected the idea of bringing in the FBI to reopen its background check of Kavanaugh. Should he order such a review, it would likely delay a confirmation vote until after the election.

    More >>

    Trump has already rejected the idea of bringing in the FBI to reopen its background check of Kavanaugh. Should he order such a review, it would likely delay a confirmation vote until after the election.

    More >>
  • Construction continues on the new $96 million Kona Courthouse

    Construction continues on the new $96 million Kona Courthouse

    Wednesday, September 19 2018 3:29 PM EDT2018-09-19 19:29:50 GMT
    The redesigned Keahuolo Courthouse. (Image: Hawaii Judiciary)The redesigned Keahuolo Courthouse. (Image: Hawaii Judiciary)

    Construction continues on the new Keahuolu Courthouse in Kona. 

    More >>

    Construction continues on the new Keahuolu Courthouse in Kona. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly