Longtime congressman and current Democratic Governor of Hawaii, Neil Abercrombie, will appoint Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to fill Hawaii’s open seat in the U.S. Senate that had been held by Daniel Inouye for a half century, reports the Associated Press.
Inouye, 88, died last week and the Hawaii Democratic Party central committee had narrowed down their choice for an appointee to finish the Senator’s term ending in 2014 to three finalists; Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, State Department of Land and Natural Resources Deputy Director Esther Kia’aina and Schatz.
The choice comes as a surprise, as it had been reported that Inouye requested that Hanabusa be his replacement in a letter to the governor before his death.
ABC’s Honolulu affiliate KITV reports that Schatz served for eight years as the CEO of Helping Hands Hawwaii before being elected to lieutenant governor in 2010. From 1998 to 2006 Schatz was a member of the Hawaii house of Representatives, serving as 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 Hawaii and graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, CA.