Hanabusa, Hirono, Inouye staff react to Schatz appointment

Published: Dec. 26, 2012 at 8:39 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 26, 2012 at 10:13 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye's office says it's disappointed Gov. Neil Abercrombie chose not to honor the Hawaii Democrat's last wish that U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa replace him in the chamber.

Abercrombie on Wednesday appointed Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to the role, saying Inouye's wishes weren't the only factor he had to consider. He says "No one and nothing was preordained."

"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," said Abercrombie. "Brian Schatz will do us proud."

The Democratic Party handed Abercrombie a list of three candidates earlier in the day including Hanabusa, Schatz and Esther Kiaaina, a deputy director in the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Inouye's chief of staff, Jennifer Sabas, says despite the disappointment, Inouye's office wishes Schatz "the best of luck."

Congresswoman Hanabusa congratulated Schatz in a statement, saying she respects the "governor's right to appoint a successor."

"As a member of Hawaii's Congressional delegation, I will continue to work to serve the people of our state, and support our delegation's efforts," said Hanabusa.

Senator-elect Mazie Hirono, who will serve with Schatz in Washington, said it was important that the move be made when it was so that Hawaii will be better represented during talks about the fiscal cliff.

"I look forward to partnering with Senator-appointee Brian Schatz, Representative Colleen Hanabusa and Representative-elect Tulsi Gabbard as Hawaii's federal delegation," said Hirono. "As a delegation and as a state, we will pull together to build upon the foundation laid by Senators Inouye and Akaka, to ensure that our values and priorities continue to be reflected in our nation's capitol."

Shan Tsutsui, the President of the Hawaii State Senate, also released a statement on the Governor's appointment of Schatz Wednesday afternoon.

"Congratulations to the Lieutenant Governor on his appointment to fill Senator Inouye's vacant seat in the United States Senate. I am confident that he will ably serve the State of Hawaii and honor the legacy that Senator Inouye has left behind. I understand that by law, as Senate President, I would be next in line to succeed Lieutenant Governor Schatz. I plan to discuss this prospect with the Governor and my family before making a decision."

The Hawaii Republic Party issued the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:

"The Hawaii Republican Party would like to wish Brian Schatz well in his new role as Hawaii's Senator, even though he lacks the legitimacy of an election and was selected counter to the final dying wish of Senator Inouye. The Democrat Party of Hawaii's State Central Committee narrowed down the field of fourteen applicants and nominated Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, Deputy Director of the State Department of Land and Natural Resources Esther Kiaaina,and Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz. The Hawaii Republican Party wants to remind recently appointed Senator that he must always act in the best interest of all of Hawaii's citizens.

"While the appointment of Congresswoman Collen Hanabusa would have required special election to fill her congressional seat, HRP was well prepared to field a candidate that would be a capable leader, and strong advocate for Hawaii. The extreme partisan politics of Hawaii Democrat Party serves as a reminder that a balanced two-party system is sorely needed. Governor Abercrombie has once again put partisan politics and power ahead of Hawaii's people. This appointment reinforces Governor Abercrombie's sporadic and inconsistent leadership."

Schatz says he will run for re-election in 2014 to try to keep the Senate seat until 2016.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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