HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The list to people seeking to replace the late Sen. Daniel Inouye is getting longer and the lobbying is getting more intense.
State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim today joined a crowded field that includes U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz and state Sen. Will Espero.
Party sources also have discussed newly elected U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard as a potential applicant.
"There's a lot going on behind the scenes. People are jockeying for position," said HPU Professor John Hart.
"You are talking about in the first post-Inouye world, the first battle for the control of the Democratic Party."
Hanabusa was hand picked by Inouye to succeed him but one former chairman of the Democratic Party says her nomination is not a sure thing.
"It's not a done deal. I think the Senator will probably appreciate the process, you know, because he's a good Democrat," said state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, (D) Ala Moana, Waikiki.
"The law calls for us to pick three to be forwarded to the governor for consideration and he is the decision maker."
Mercado Kim listed her extensive legislative experience as her qualifications for the post. Gabbard, meanwhile, did not address the question as to whether she will apply.
"I join citizens all across Hawaii in taking this time to honor Sen. Inouye's incredible life and legacy," she said in an email.
Monday is the deadline to submit applications to the Democratic Party's central committee. Party officials say they plan to deliver the list of three finalists to Gov. Neil Abercrombie by year end.
They say they hope Abercrombie will make the pick in time for Inouye's successor to be sworn in by the start of Congress.
Richard Port, who also served as the party's chairman, believes the governor will ultimately defer to Inouye's request.
"My belief is he will select Colleen Hanabusa since that was the wishes of the senior senator," said Port.