HONOLULU — Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz of Hawaii was appointed Wednesday to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced the appointment after receiving a list of three candidates from the state Democratic Party earlier in the day. The other candidates were U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Esther Kiaaina, a deputy director in the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Inouye died Dec. 17 of respiratory complications at the age of 88. He had sent Abercrombie a letter that day, saying he would like Hanabusa, 61, to succeed him.
“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,” Jennifer Sabas, Inouye’s chief of staff, said in a statement. “We wish Brian Schatz the best of luck.”
Inouye’s wishes weren’t the only factor he had to consider, Abercrombie said.
“No one and nothing was preordained,” he said.
Schatz will serve until an election is held in 2014. Had Hanabusa been appointed, a special election would have been necessary to fill her seat.
Schatz said he will run for re-election in 2014 to try to keep the Senate seat until 2016, the end of Inouye’s original term. He said he would run again for Senate in 2016 if given the chance.