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Case and Kiaaina join list of potential successors to Inouye

By Star Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 2:09 a.m. HST, Dec 24, 2012

Former congressman Ed Case said Sunday that he has applied for the appointment to replace the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.

Case, who lost in the Democratic primary for Senate this year to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, served for four years in the U.S. House. He also lost a 2006 primary to Akaka and a 2010 special election campaign to fill a vacancy in urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District.

“Our Hawaii has never faced such a precarious position on Capitol Hill,” Case said in a letter to the Democratic Party of Hawaii's state central committee. “I respectfully ask you to consider my experience, ability and commitment to take up and fulfill the challenge of serving as Hawaii’s next senator, both today and over the next decades.”

Esther Kiaaina, a deputy director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, who lost a Democratic primary campaign this year for the 2nd Congressional District, has also applied for the vacancy. Kiaaina is a former legislative aide to Akaka and Case.

“It would be a tremendous honor and privilege to serve the people of Hawaii in the U.S. Senate," she said in a statement. “With Senator Inouye’s passing and Senator Akaka’s imminent departure, it is important to ensure that Hawaii has the strongest representation possible in our nation’s capitol. With their exemplary leadership and accomplishments, I pledge to build upon their foundation and continue to fight for the people of Hawaii.”

The state central committee is meeting on Wednesday to discuss the three recommendations the party will forward to Gov. Neil Abercrombie to replace Inouye, who died of respiratory complications on Monday at 88.

The appointed senator will serve until voters in 2014 elect a senator to fill the remainder of Inouye's six-year term, which runs through 2016.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, who Inouye had recommended as his successor before he died, and Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz are considered among the leading contenders for the appointment.

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