Local politicians remember, reflect on Inouye's career

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Governor Neil Abercrombie learned on Sunday night that Senator Daniel Inouye's health was turning for the worst. On Monday, the Governor became emotional while talking about the loss of a friend and colleague.

"While we may have known time and fate would decree this taking place, that he would not be with us forever, that none the less the actuality and reality is about to set in. He made clear to me in a communication to me of his love and affection for us all," said Governor Neil Abercrombie.

The Governor was scheduled to talk about the state's biennium budget, instead the entire news conference was about the passing of Hawaii's most influential voice.

"I had the opportunity to speak with Irene just before coming before you. She expressed her love and affection for all of us and she asked for the opportunity to prepare for all of us to say our goodbyes," said Governor Abercrombie.   "My understanding is that while his faculties were entirely intact, physically he began to shut down."

Governor Neil Abercrombie has worked with Senator Dan Inouye since his first stint in Washington in the 1980's.  Abercrombie will have the final say on picking the Senator's successor.

"As to what will take place in regard to what is to come, and what is to transpire with regard to the Senator's passing, all in good time, all in good time," said Governor Abercrombie.

"There will never be another Dan Inouye.  By God when Dan Inouye spoke you knew it was a member of the United States Senate. I don't suppose that there is any such thing as the voice of God but I have an idea if God had to pick someone to speak for him it would have been Dan Inouye," said Governor Abercrombie.

Honolulu Mayor Elect Kirk Caldwell met his wife while working in Senator Inouye's Washington D.C. office.  He called it the best gift he could have received. He also said Inouye was an incredible boss.

"It's a loss that you can't measure it. I equate it to the sun going out. We all feel the gravitational pull of Senator Inouye, all of us in this state. He's held things together in a lot of different ways. That sun has gone out and it's going to take some adjusting for all of us. We're going to see long term impacts but for me there is no greater American hero. His story is a story of America at its best," said Caldwell.

Caldwell also recalled his last conversation with Senator Inouye on election night.

"He came and wished me luck. I have a picture in my campaign headquarters office. He looks healthy, he's smiling and just yesterday I was looking at that picture and said he's going to be okay. He's going to recover. So I was really shocked when I heard the news this morning," said Caldwell.

State House Speaker Calvin Say says Hawaii should pay tribute to Inouye for all that he made happen for the people in the state.

"For the community as a whole every ethnic group should put on a service for him. The restoration of Mookini Heiau on the Big Island, to the Japanese Cultural Center to the Filipino Community Center, all of the non-profits he has helped they really should come out to support him and remember his legacy and contributions to the people of the state," said Say.  "It's with a deep heart we losing a major major iconic legacy, a person of 60 plus years in public service and young kids today do not even realize what a hero he was during war and peace."

Current State House Republican leader Aaron Ling Johanson was chosen by Inouye for a U.S. Senate Youth Scholar Program back in 1998 and says Inouye is one of the last truly bipartisan politicians.

"I think everyone in the state of Hawaii is saddened by a huge loss for our state. He really was a statesman and in many ways I think he embodied the best of America and that's increasingly rare as we see so much partisanship especially in Washington DC. So I think Republicans, Democrats and people who don't politically affiliate are all saddened by the loss of Sen. Inouye," said Aaron Ling Johanson, (R) House Minority Leader.

State Republicans say if ever there were an issue that would get unanimous consent by lawmakers it would be finding a way to honor Senator Inouye with an appropriate tribute.

"If there was anything that would have unanimous consent its honoring a great man in our state and our nation's history and I don't think there is any question of unequivocal support by everyone in the House and Senate to honor him commensurate with his stature," said Johanson.

"His monument is that he was a Hawaii boy. He lived his life as a Hawaii boy. He was a local guy. He understood what Go for Broke meant. He valued every moment that faith decreed would be allowed him in this life until his last breath, literally he lived Aloha. His last word was Aloha," said Governor Abercrombie.

Senator Inouye started politics at the state level and lawmakers say people are invited to place flowers at the State Capitol rotunda which might be a bit easier than at his office in the federal building which requires people to go through security.

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