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

By Derrick DePledge

LAST UPDATED: 9:24 p.m. HST, Dec 17, 2012

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye urged Gov. Neil Abercrombie in a personal letter to appoint U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa as his successor, a spokesman for the senator said.

Inouye's spokesman, Peter Boylan said the letter is Abercrombie's to release. But he confirmed it was Inouye's "last wish" for Hanabusa to succeed him.

Abercrombie acknowledged receiving the letter but did not publicly talk about the appointment recommendation. The governor said the letter was hand-delivered today.

"I cannot speak and will not speak for the family, but I believe it's important for everyone to know that the senator's thoughts and words were lucid and ... available to us right up until the very last minute," Abercrombie said.

"It was not his faculties that were impaired at all. It's just that physically, he gave everything. "

Hanabusa was first elected to the U.S. House in 2010. She was re-elected in November. 

Abercrombie will name Inouye's successor from a list of up to three recommendations from the Democratic Party of Hawaii. The appointed senator will serve until 2014, when an election will be held to fill out the rest of Inouye's six-year term, which runs through 2016.

An Abercrombie spokeswoman declined to release the letter, saying Inouye had marked it personal and that's how Abercrombie views it.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the state Democratic party, Dante Carpenter, met with Abercrombie today. Carpenter said the party hopes to have a new senator in Washington in time for the first day of the new congressional session so Hawaii won't lose too much seniority. The 113th Congress is scheduled to begin Jan. 3.

The party's state central committee, which has about 80 members, will likely meet by conference call to select the three candidates. But Carpenter said the party isn't looking to do that this week, as it wants to respect Inouye's family and the contributions Inouye made.

Carpenter said he discussed the mechanics of the process with Abercrombie.


The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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