The late Daniel Inouye didn't ask for much in his last days, only that Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa would fill his seat in the Senate until the 2014 election. On Wednesday, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie made sure that wouldn't happen when he named Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz as Inouye's successor. "I make this decision with full confidence that Brian's appointment is in the best interest of the State of Hawaii and the nation," said Abercrombie. "As Lieutenant Governor, Brian has demonstrated all of the qualities Hawaii could ask for in a Senator … Brian Schatz will do us proud."
Abercrombie knew well and good that Inouye wanted Hanabusa to take the job. The late senator wrote him a letter specifically asking for the congresswoman to take his seat. Abercrombie had other plans, though. "In the U.S. House, Hawaii will benefit from the continued leadership of Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa as she keeps building on her service on the House Armed Services Committee that is so vital to our state," said the governor. "Without her in that capacity, we would have no one in the House or Senate serving in this critical position."
Needless to say, Inouye's former staff was not thrilled by this news. They were polite, though. "Sen. Inouye conveyed his final wish to Gov. Abercrombie," said Jennifer Sabas, Inouye's former chief of staff. "While we are very disappointed that it was not honored, it was the Governor's decision to make. We wish Brian Schatz the best of luck." And he'll probably do a fine job. Before becoming lieutenant governor in 2010, Schatz served in Hawaii's House of Representatives for eight years, chaired the state's Democratic Party and also ran Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign in the state. (Funnily enough, Schatz also went to Punahou, the same high school that Obama attended.)
Hanabusa hasn't said a thing about the appointment. Her last tweet on December 17 reads simply, "I will miss him, and I join our state and our nation in mourning the loss of a hero, a champion, and a wonderful man. Aloha, Dan."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.