BY JIM DOOLEY – Before he died, Sen. Daniel Inouye asked that U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa replace him in office, Inouye’s office said.
Hanabusa was Inouye’s “one and only choice,” said Inouye press spokesman Peter Boylan.
The request was made in a personal message delivered to Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie in recent days.
Abercrombie, who must appoint Inouye’s successor, declined today to discuss the contents of the message other than to say it conveyed Inouye’s “love and affection for us all” and the senator’s belief that he believed he had “represented the people of Hawaii and this nation honestly and to the best of my ability.”
The governor must pick a successor to Inouye who will hold office until the next general election in 2014.
Under state law, the appointment must be made from three nominees selected by the Hawaii Democratic Party.
Possible candidates besides Hanabusa include former U.S. Rep Ed Case, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and even Abercrombie himself, a former Congressman.
Abercrombie stressed at a news conference on Monday that Inouye’s mental faculties were intact when Inouye sent the message.
“I believe that its important for everyone to know that the senator’s thoughts and words were lucid and available to us right up until the very last minute,” said Abercrombie.
Hanabusa has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since January of last year. She won reelection last month.
A close political ally of Inouye, Hanabusa, a labor attorney, previously served in the state Senate from 1998 to 2010 and was the first female Senate President.