Senate President Shan Tsutsui (D, Waihee-Wailuku-Kahului) is Hawaii’s new lieutenant governor.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie made the announcement at a 3:30 p.m. news conference.
“I look at this as an opportunity,” Tsutsui said at a press conference. “I don’t think I would’ve predicted this.”
Tsutsui succeeds Brian Schatz, who is now Hawaii’s newest U.S. senator.
Schatz was appointed by Abercrombie on Wednesday to fill the vacancy in the Senate created by the death of U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, who died Dec. 17 at age 88. Schatz was sworn in today by Vice President Joe Biden.
Abercrombie said Tsutsui will be working out of Maui and Oahu, officially. Plans include opening a lieutenant governor’s office on Maui.
Maui Democrats will meet and recommend three names as potential successors to Tsutsui in the Senate. Abercrombie will make final selection.
Tsutsui said he takes no position on who he would like to see succeed him as Senate president. “There’s many qualified individuals,” he said.
Tsutsui was the first Senate president from Maui as well as the youngest. He was elected to the Senate in 2002.
The lieutenant governor graduated from Maui High School in 1989 and earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Hawaii in 1994. He and his wife, Lyndelle Lee Tsutsui, reside on Maui with their three daughters, Mikayla, Kaylee and Kenna.