Gov. Neil Abercrombie picked Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz Wednesday to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the late Daniel K. Inouye. According to a White House official, Senator-designate Schatz flew to Washington with the president on Air Force One Wednesday night.
"Today, I will inform the leadership of the United States Senate that I have appointed Brian Schatz as the next United Sates Senator from Hawaii," said Abercrombie. "I make this decision with full confidence that Brian’s appointment is in the best interest of the State of Hawaii and the nation."
"As Lieutenant Governor, Brian has demonstrated all of the qualities Hawaii could ask for in a Senator: respect for our traditions and a strong sense of values, remarkably strong character and problem-solving capacities, and above all an abiding love for and commitment to the people of our state. Brian Schatz will do us proud," said Abercrombie.
Sources with knowledge of the situation tell KITV4 News that Schatz was a finalist along with Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and state Department of Land and Natural Resources Deputy Director Esther Kia'aina.
In a letter to the governor, Inouye's final wish was for Hanabusa to take his place in the Senate.
Jennifer Sabas, Chief of Staff to former Senator Daniel K. Inouye:
"Sen. Inouye conveyed his final wish to Gov. Abercrombie. While we are very disappointed that it was not honored, it was the Governor's decision to make. We wish Brian Schatz the best of luck."
However, Abercrombie said, "In the U.S. House, Hawaii will benefit from the continued leadership of Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa as she keeps building on her service on the House Armed Services Committee that is so vital to our state. Without her in that capacity, we would have no one in the House or Senate serving in this critical position."
Jennifer Sabas, the chief of staff to Inouye, said, "Sen. Inouye conveyed his final wish to Gov. Abercrombie. While we are very disappointed that it was not honored, it was the Governor's decision to make. We wish Brian Schatz the best of luck."
The Office of Elections says the lieutenant governor vacancy will be filled in the following order: President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, Attorney General, Director of Finance, State Comptroller, Director of Taxation, and Director of Personnel Services.