What does the passing of Sen. Inouye mean for Hawaii politics?

Published  3:42 PM HST Dec 17, 2012
HONOLULU -

With the passing of Hawaii's longest serving U.S. Senator, local and national politicians faced the task of filling the massive void left by one of the longest serving Senators in U.S. history.

According to officials from Sen. Inouye's office, the late Senator expressed his wishes in a letter to Governor Neil Abercrombie to have his position as U.S. Senator filled by Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa for the duration of his term.

Hanabusa recently won re-election as a House Representative for Hawaii.

According to state bylaws concerning midterm vacancies:

HRS§17-1 United States senator.  When a vacancy occurs in the office of United States senator, the vacancy shall be filled…Pending the election, the governor shall make a temporary appointment to fill the vacancy by selecting a person from a list of three prospective appointees submitted by the same political party as the prior incumbent.

As one of the senior-most U.S. Senators, Inouye held influential clout as head of several committees, including the Appropriations Committee. Furthermore, he was third in succession to replace the president.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont is now third in the line of presidential succession.

The Senate late Monday passed a resolution approving Leahy as president pro tempore. He would replace Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died Monday.

The seven-term Leahy would be third in line to the presidency, behind the vice president and the speaker of the House.

Leahy also is in line to replace Inouye as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The 72-year-old Leahy currently is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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