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Hanabusa looks strong as possible replacement for Inouye

The congresswoman was anointed by the senator in his last wish, but would have contended anyway

By B.J. Reyes

LAST UPDATED: 03:43 a.m. HST, Dec 21, 2012

Even without a letter from U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye stating his "last wish," U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa probably would be the most likely and best qualified candidate to replace the senator, political analysts say.

Inouye, 88, died Monday of breathing complications. In a letter delivered before his death to Gov. Neil Abercrombie — who by law will appoint a successor — Inouye asked that Hanabusa be chosen to fill his seat.

"Any way you look at it, especially from the logic of the Democratic Party, Colleen Hanabusa would've been in a strong position," said Neal Milner, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii. "If you create a scenario where the governor had to come up with three candidates for a Senate position that he could appoint to, it would be hard to believe that she wouldn't be in that top three anyway."

John Hart, chairman of the Department of Communication at Hawaii Pacific University, said the case for Hanabusa is stronger than just being among the likely top three choices.

"It's kind of unfortunate this story's being framed as she's going to get this job because of his deathbed wish," Hart said. "As dramatic as that is and as understandable as it is that he would do this in that last effort, it misses the point that she probably is the most obvious choice. She's been in D.C. She's intelligent. She's effective.

"She would make a good successor and even without that letter she would be the front-runner."

Abercrombie is required to appoint a successor from a list of three candidates submitted by the state Democratic Party. He has asked the party to deliver the list so an appointment can be made before the swearing-in of the next Congress.

The party's central committee plans to meet Dec. 28 to select the candidates. The application deadline for prospective candidates is Monday.

Whoever is chosen would serve until an election can be held in 2014 to fill the seat through the end of the term in 2016.

Hawaii Democratic Party Executive Director Debi Hartmann said the party will consider only people who apply.

A spokesman for Hana­busa — who represents the 1st Congressional District, covering urban Honolulu — confirmed that Hanabusa submitted her nomination packet Wednesday.

Other names mentioned as possible successors include Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, who has not commented on the possibility, although a source said he also would apply.

If Schatz is appointed, state Senate President Shan Tsu­tsui (D, Wai­hee-Wai­luku-Kahu­lui) would be in line to succeed him as lieutenant governor. If Tsu­tsui declines, whoever is House speaker would be next.

A spokeswoman for Abercrombie said the governor has no plans to apply for the vacancy. Neither does U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, who is retiring and supporting Hanabusa for the job, according to his spokesman.

"Formally, you've got to nominate three people," Milner said. "But the case for Colleen is so compelling in two ways: The senator's last request and the fact that there doesn't seem to be any political reason not to follow it as far as the governor's concerned.

"The rest of the list is kind of pro forma. It'll be an honor for the other two people, whoever they are, to be put on the list."

Hart said he also would be surprised if Hanabusa did not emerge as the appointee.

Whether Abercrombie goes with or against the wishes of Inouye could affect his political future, Hart added.

"If Neil doesn't want to run, he can do what he wants," Hart said. "If he wants to run, does he really want to risk alienating the Inouye machine?

"Think about it: The guy (Ino­uye) is going to be like the (32nd) person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol and this is his last wish."

Hanabusa's appointment would create a U.S. House vacancy to be filled by a winner-take-all special election, probably early next year.

Similar circumstances occurred in 2010, when Abercrombie resigned his seat in Congress to concentrate on his run for governor.

Republican Charles Djou emerged the winner in that special election with a plurality of 40 percent, as Hanabusa and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case split the vote among Democrats. Hana­busa won a rematch with Djou in November of that year and defeated him again last month to win a second term.

Milner and Hart said Djou and Case would be among the potential candidates for the open seat, along with other highly recognized names such as former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

Djou said it was too early to comment on the possibility of running again.

"At this stage, there is no election and I'm happy just being a husband and a dad and a normal private citizen again," Djou said. "It's too early to tell and for that matter I think the focus really should be on Sen. Inouye and his achievements."

Lingle, who lost to U.S. Sen.-elect Mazie Hirono for the seat being vacated by Akaka, would not comment on the potential opening.

Case, who lost to Hirono in the Democratic primary for Senate, and Hannemann, who lost to U.S. Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard in the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District, did not return telephone messages seeking comment.

A newer candidate might have a harder time raising money and running a statewide campaign, Hart said, saying Lingle could potentially win in a special election field with several known Democrats.

Milner said it is too early to tell who might contend among Democrats.

"It's hard to know what guys like Case are going to do, or what Hannemann's going to do," Milner said. "It depends how flawed they feel from the last one.

"The first thing you look for is whether the ones that are on the tip of the tongue — Djou, Hannemann, Case — whether they jump in, because if they don't that really does change the dynamics and that would bring in a whole lot of other kinds of candidates."


'An irreplaceable American'

Hundreds hop shuttles to cemetery to say aloha

Military pays tribute to 'a giant'

Congress announces memorial services for Inouye

Inouye receives Capitol farewell befitting a great statesman

Several Democrats step forward to apply for Inouye seat

Obama, Biden to speak at cathedral service for Inouye

Akaka urges Senate to pass recognition bill in Inouye's honor

Daniel K. Inouye Memorial Fund to continue senator’s work

Hanabusa looks strong as possible replacement for Inouye

Isle delegation's power decreases to nil

A war hero to a U.S. senator

Hanabusa says she will apply for Senate vacancy

A war hero to a U.S. senator

On somber anniversary, Biden copes with a new loss

Daniel K. Inouye | 1924 - 2012

Inouye's letter details his 'last wish' for his successor

Democrats will name candidates to succeed Inouye on Dec. 28

In a rare honor, Inouye to lie in state at U.S. Capitol

President orders flags flown at half-staff for Inouye

Leahy succeeds Inouye as Senate president pro tempore

VIDEO: Senate remembers Sen. Inouye

Hawaii mourns 'An American hero'

Mikulski to become first woman to head Appropriations Committee, replacing Inouye

Sen. Inouye’s influence extended into sports realm

Congressional sway funneled billions of dollars to isle projects

A champion of Japanese-Americans

Lawmakers from both parties praise legacy of modest hero

Inouye advocated for Hanabusa to take his place in U.S. Senate

Inouye's impact on Hawaii was monumental

Sen. Inouye’s influence extended into sports realm

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye dies at age 88 of respiratory illness

Inouye wanted Hanabusa to succeed him in U.S. Senate

Statement from President Obama on Sen. Inouye's death

Gov. Abercrombie says public memorial will be planned

Inouye tributes come from White House to Honolulu Hale

VIDEO: Sens. Akaka and Reid speak about Inouye

Statement announcing Sen. Inouye's death

Sen. Inouye to remain in hospital indefinitely

Inouye 'fighting respiratory complications'

Photos: Remembering Senator Daniel Inouye Part I

Senator Daniel Inouye through Associated Press' lens Part I

Senator Daniel Inouye through Associated Press' lens Part II

Senator Daniel Inouye through Associated Press' lens Part III

Remembering Senator Daniel Inouye Part II

Remembering Sen. Daniel Inouye Part III

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what wrote:
I fail to understand why Inouye chose to try to influence the normal selection process for a successor to the people's Senate seat for Hanabusa, such an unremarkable legislator.
on December 20,2012 | 12:47AM
EwaWarrior wrote:
Because absolute power corrupts absolutely. Inouye apparently reveled in being the kingmaker in this remote island chain.
on December 20,2012 | 02:47AM
Tom938 wrote:
on December 20,2012 | 05:17AM
wiliki wrote:
Let's wait and see who Abercrombie appoints. I really really hope that the Party can give him three names that are qualified and the best that we can offer.
on December 20,2012 | 10:08AM
Wazdat wrote:
on December 20,2012 | 05:50AM
baileygirl9631 wrote:
Agree also! Have been saying that for years but people don't listen! No on Hanabusa!
on December 20,2012 | 09:56AM
frontman wrote:
We have a system, use it. Dan wasn't King of Hawaii, even though he is being portrayed as one, and should not anoint anyone to replace him.
on December 20,2012 | 06:51AM
Wazdat wrote:
on December 20,2012 | 06:54AM
wondermn1 wrote:
Agree, Can you imagine if Hanabusa is in the Senate America will end up looking like the Waianae Coast her old district with people unemployed, talking to telephone poles,living homeless with no hope for jobs. Sure she did a great job out in Maili. Heck we even have a dump named after the other side of the island so nobody knows where it is. Please not Hanbusa go take a drive into central Waianae.
on December 20,2012 | 09:06AM
peanutgallery wrote:
What a crock! Hawaii gets shafted, again.
on December 20,2012 | 03:02AM
Kawipoo wrote:
Hawaii deserves what it gets! You know have Mazie who has a low IQ. Hanabusa a crook who makes money off of inside information and a Hindu who believes cows are sacred. What more could you ask for? Oh you could ask for a smelly yellow toothed troll as governor.
on December 20,2012 | 03:26AM
motherof17yearold wrote:
Good one!
on December 20,2012 | 04:44AM
Giligan wrote:
That sums it up, after 50 years of greatness, we are left with these crumbs.
on December 20,2012 | 05:08AM
allie wrote:
on December 20,2012 | 12:34PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
You were doing pretty well until you attacked Tulsi's religious beliefs. To an atheist, they all sound equally silly.
on December 20,2012 | 05:41AM
Leinanij wrote:
If you don't like it here so much, please leave and make Hawai'i a better place.
on December 20,2012 | 06:38AM
loquaciousone wrote:
If Colleen moves to the Senate her first order of business will be to give herself a 36 percent pay raise.
on December 20,2012 | 03:27AM
motherof17yearold wrote:
Why not? She, only she, believes she deserves it. While, we the "poor" sector don't believe she's worth anything.
on December 20,2012 | 04:45AM
Giligan wrote:
She will spend money like water, while the rest of the world is ready for austerity, Hawaii is behind the times.
on December 20,2012 | 05:12AM
danji wrote:
My opnion---Neither Schatz or Hanabusa is fitted for the job. Neither has shown anything. Hanabusa is arogant and Schatz is a Zero. Case or Djou would be better. I am Democrat from way back and am tired of RUBBER STAMPS(Hirono andHanabusa and Schatz). ALL RUBBER STAMPS IS THE CAUSE OF OUR LEGISLATIVE PROBLEMS. Once elected Legislators should be working for the people of the USA and for the PARTIES.
on December 20,2012 | 03:51AM
motherof17yearold wrote:
I wholeheartedly agree.
on December 20,2012 | 04:45AM
Wazdat wrote:
AGREE 100%
on December 20,2012 | 05:51AM
pgkemp wrote:
thankyou, well summed up.........
on December 20,2012 | 06:35AM
inverse wrote:
Hanabusa in the Senate (or House) will be as effective as Norm Chow is as head coach of a Div 1A football team.
on December 20,2012 | 05:03AM
Wazdat wrote:
hahaha so TRUE
on December 20,2012 | 05:51AM
Pocho wrote:
Hanabusa is a Good fit! She's smart, she comes off as being real confident and stern. I have no confidence in Hirono who just got elected to replace Sen. Akaka.
on December 20,2012 | 05:25AM
pgkemp wrote:
oh pocho, get some solar.......
on December 20,2012 | 06:36AM
kukui_nut wrote:
on December 20,2012 | 06:42AM
Pocho wrote:
Hirono = quiet and INeffective
on December 20,2012 | 11:17AM
allie wrote:
on December 20,2012 | 12:33PM
allie wrote:
neither are major league talent but they are all we have out here apparently
on December 20,2012 | 12:34PM
loquaciousone wrote:
If hanabusa is not happy with her current job, why did she run in the first place. Now she wants to cost taxpayers a couple of million dollars for a special elction. If she wants to move, she should pay for the special election to fill the seat taxpayers JUST elected her to.
on December 20,2012 | 05:40AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
I don't think Hanabusa is unhappy with her current job. Politicians are like coaches. They're always looking for greener pastures.
on December 20,2012 | 05:48AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I was thinking more like cockroaches that are always looking at other people's food.
on December 20,2012 | 06:20AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I will NEVER forget that Colleen Hanbusa gave herself a 36 percent pay raise while other State workers took a 10 percent pay cut.
on December 20,2012 | 05:41AM
primo1 wrote:
Apparently a lot of people DID forget when they went to the polls this past November...
on December 20,2012 | 01:18PM
Publicbraddah wrote:
I'd like John Hart to define how Hanabusa has been effective. Give us some examples to convince us that she's the right choice. To be obvious, no candidate will come close to Inouye's stature in Congress. Only time and effectiveness will dictate that.
on December 20,2012 | 05:47AM
Wazdat wrote:
I respect Mr Inouye. BUT this is NOT what the people want. She should NOT be appointed and let her run like everyone else in 2 years.
on December 20,2012 | 05:50AM
McCully wrote:
Oh please, anothbody but Hanabusa. This just shows you there is nobody creditable among the democrats. This is the beginning on the downfall of the democractic party.
on December 20,2012 | 06:06AM
eastside808 wrote:
Another costly election to fill Hanabusa's vacant position? That's the scenario if she is chosen as Sen Inouye's replacement. She really should stay in the office she was elected to and then run in 2014. We will have two years to evaluate her performance and that of Sen Inouye's replacement. A win win situation to me.
on December 20,2012 | 06:20AM
Wazdat wrote:
AGREE makes to much COMMON SENSE for this state.
on December 20,2012 | 06:22AM
loquaciousone wrote:
It just shows that Colleen is in it only for herself and could give a rip about Hawaii's taxpayers. She gave herself a 36 percent pay raise as Hawaii's State Senate President while all other State workers were taking pay cuts, furloughs and lay offs.
on December 20,2012 | 06:32AM
pgkemp wrote:
you can spot a phoney a mile away. wonder who made that comment......
on December 20,2012 | 06:33AM
Tony91 wrote:
The right thing to do is appoint someone sworn to only serve the remainder of Inouye's term and not run for re-election. If Hanabusa wants the seat, let her run for it land be elected like everyone else. A dead senator should not be allowed to control his seat from the grave no matter how esteemed, honored or great the man was.
on December 20,2012 | 06:54AM
foliefolie wrote:
on December 20,2012 | 02:47PM
kiragirl wrote:
Do we only have females in Hawaii to represent us in congress? Where's the men? Enough of them already!
on December 20,2012 | 07:09AM
Bdpapa wrote:
They all have no balls.
on December 20,2012 | 05:29PM
akuman808 wrote:
Although she has yet to be sworn in, I believe Tulsi Gabbard should be considered. Tulsi is much younger and that presents a longer term tenure, senority. Second, I feel Tulsi has the "It" factor, something that Colleen lacks. We have witnessed how Pelosi and other Congressional leaders have embraced Tulsi. I have yet to see that with Colleen and Mazie.
on December 20,2012 | 07:17AM
Mediocrates wrote:
I'm a big fan of Tulsi, but it would be the hight of irresponsibility to promote her like that when we still don't even know how she might govern. Cut short State Rep, cut short City Council, and now cut short Congress - no way. It is high time she is tested in a position of some duration to see if she truly has what it takes. Then someday she could qualify, but not now.
on December 20,2012 | 11:08AM
akuman808 wrote:
Mahalo for your comment to my post. To suggest that Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa have shown the savy to govern is puzzling. Mazie's record on legistation introduced and passed is non existent. Also, remember that our President spent a limited time as a senator before running for the highest office. He's done pretty well so we need to see the "it" factor then the "what" factor.
on December 20,2012 | 03:52PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Colleen is a lock. Garans ball barans. I've explained this several times already but some folks just don't get it or refuse to accept reality.
on December 20,2012 | 07:19AM
ichiban wrote:
Sadly, I agree. But for 2 years only. Then she has to vie for the Senatorial office. That's when former Sen. Inouye's full term in office ends.
on December 20,2012 | 09:04AM
fka wrote:
I agree with you,she is the most qualified. Too bad she isn't younger,so she could accrue seniority,which is very important. Hawaii will suffer economically with the death of Inouye,as he had the seniority to appropriate federal fundings
on December 20,2012 | 05:39PM
Fred01 wrote:
NO WAY! She is filthy and disgusting! She is the devil!
on December 20,2012 | 09:03AM
AndrewWalden wrote:
on December 20,2012 | 09:32AM
baileygirl9631 wrote:
Ed Case would be better but Inouye messed him up!
on December 20,2012 | 10:01AM
wiliki wrote:
Abercrombie will appoint a good person... if not he'll ask for another three names from the party.
on December 20,2012 | 10:04AM
serious wrote:
This is not a lottery! I don't think it will matter whomever he chooses--the last delegation was rated the most ineffective in DC and I see no move in an upper rating. With a one party system, this is what one gets. The earmarks that Uncle Dan gave HI were bribes that he added on to a bill and voted yes just to get the $$$$. Please, can anyone remember ANY bill that any of our delegates ever sponsored---except the native rights bill? We could save a lot of money just by sending a Democratic robot to DC.
on December 20,2012 | 10:16AM
wiliki wrote:
What koolaid are you drinking?
on December 20,2012 | 02:54PM
serious wrote:
wiliki--just give us the bills!! I am waiting!!
on December 20,2012 | 03:27PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
It is a shame that Senator Inouye didn't make his wishes regarding Senator Hanabusa better known before hand. Even if he had said something about in a stump speech about her replacing him one day while campaigning for her. I am much, much younger than Senator Inouye, and while it's no fun, estate and succession planning is a necessary task and a gift to your survivors. If this had been a will supposedly written and machine signed in his last hours of life while dying of respiratory failure in ICU, you can bet there'd be a lot of questions about it's validity.

Sadly, this overly dramatic, fishy "Dying Wish Letter" supposedly written in his last hours of life and then hand delivered to our governor by local powerplayers in order to hamstring our Governor's decision is the sort of over the top, heavy handed powerplay that we just can't seem to get away from here.
on December 20,2012 | 10:37AM
foliefolie wrote:
That's why I think Dan was cunning. Even sneaky. He had this planned all along. There is no way he wrote that letter only recently when he was in the hospital with respiratory problems. Now he makes it hard for Abercrombie to decide who to replace him. As much as Inouye did for the state of Hawaii and all the federal $$$ he brought to the state, he should not be dictating from the grave who should replace him.
on December 20,2012 | 02:55PM
Mediocrates wrote:
Sadly, Inouye seems to have made it MORE difficult for the Gov to appoint Hanabusa to replace him by giving the appearance that his suggestion should have some sort of de facto decideness to it. Abercrombie, Schatz, and Hanabusa should be the top three candidates (in that order). The Gov should appoint himself as a place holder so Schatz can take the reins as Gov and then they move some senator or such up to Lt. Gov so people are in line to run in 2014 for whatever positions they aspire to and have it decided by the people. It is would be shameful for this state to continue the "tradition" that once a person is a senator or congressperson that they can expect to keep it for life. If that is how things really are then we need to implement term limits for these positions.
on December 20,2012 | 11:03AM
entrkn wrote:
Why should Hawaii replace two great old horses (Sens Inouye and Akaka) with two good for nothing old jenny donkeys (Hirono and Hanabusa) that will get in the way of our progress and hold us back when we have two proven young virile thoroughbred horses (Tulsi Gabbard and Brian Schatz) that will serve us long and well? We also need Congressmen right now who are strong and powerful presence like Mufi Hanneman and Ed Case. Maybe the state can find political appointments for Hirono and Hanabusa to some state agency where they won't get in the way or do any more harm...
on December 20,2012 | 01:24PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
You don't understand Hawaii politics, do you?
on December 20,2012 | 04:29PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Did I mention that Colleen Hanabusa got a 36 percent pay raise while other state workers were losing their jobs?
on December 20,2012 | 02:12PM
Highinthesierras wrote:
How old is she, looks about 60 so too old to gain seniority. We néed a Queen of Pork
on December 20,2012 | 02:43PM
Anonymous wrote:
I disagree! The legislators should, yes work for the people of the USA AND, MORE POSITIVELY THE PEOPLE OF HAWAII--the people they swore to represent!!! If our legislators had done what we needed here in Hawaii we still might have a Dole pineapple factory, done away with the Jones act and not lead the country in so many negative things----I could go on!!!
on December 20,2012 | 03:51PM
CloudForest wrote:
How would you properly describe a female communist? Communistette, Communista, Lady Dragon of Death .......... I am so confused !?
on December 20,2012 | 04:04PM
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