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Several Democrats step forward to apply for Inouye seat

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 3:43 a.m. HST, Dec 21, 2012

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz said today that he would apply for the appointment to replace the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye in the Senate.

“No one can take the place of Senator Inouye, and we all continue to mourn his loss," Schatz said in a statement. "On December 28, the Democratic Party of Hawaii will meet and decide upon three names for the governor to consider for appointment to the United States Senate.  I will apply to be considered for this vacancy.  I hope to make the case to the state central committee members that I should be one of the three names that the Governor will ultimately consider."

Schatz, 40, is a former Makiki state lawmaker and chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii who helped lead President Barack Obama’s campaign in the islands in 2008. He ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District in 2006.

Schatz was elected lieutenant governor in 2010.

The party’s state central committee will meet on Dec. 28 and recommend three nominees to Gov. Neil Abercrombie. The appointed senator will serve until voters in 2014 choose a senator to fill out the remainder of Inouye’s term through 2016.

Inouye had urged Abercrombie to select U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii. Hanabusa has applied for the appointment.

Abercrombie said today "every weight" will be given to Inouye's request, but added any discussion on who he might appoint is premature until the state party presents its list of nominees.

"The plain fact is, when the choice for the senator's successor takes place it will be the result of Democracy in action," Abercrombie said at a news conference in his office.  

Tony Gill, the chairman of Oahu Democrats and a labor attorney, has also applied for the vacancy.

State Sen. Will Espero (D, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) said today that he would also apply.

"I do support the senator’s wishes that Rep. Hanabusa be the next appointed individual, however, since the law is clear that there must be three nominees I would be honored to be considered one of those other nominees,” Espero said.

“I do believe that I have the experience, the ability and the willingness to serve in Washington, D.C., and with my 21 years of service – my current government service – I think that has helped me to be where I am today."

If Schatz were chosen for the appointment, state Senate President Shan Tsutsui would be next in the line of succession for lieutenant governor. If Tsutsui were to decline, the post would go to House Speaker Calvin Say.


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