Inouye Asked That Hanabusa Succeed Him In Senate

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa is U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye's choice to replace him
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BY JIM DOOLEY – Before he died, Sen. Daniel Inouye asked that U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa replace him in office, Inouye’s office said.

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa and U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye

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.




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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at


  1. I've known Senator Inouye since 1962. I liked him. He always helped find federal money those issues for which I requested support. But h
    is deathbed anointment of Hanabusa typifies the same sort of arrogance that Inouye displayed in supporting Akaka back in 2006 — when both he and Akaka knew that it would be better for Hawaii if our Senatorial delegation had staggered seniorities. If Hawaii's future had been first on Inouye's mind, Case or someone else would be starting his second term in the Senate in ten days. Instead we will soon to have two Senators at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the Senate's all-important seniority. In this sense, Senator Inouye was a big disappointment.

  2. I totally agree with Michael. How short-sighted and arrogant of Inouye. The hard-core democrats should embrace Ed Case instead of continuing to hold him at arm's length. He is a fair and honest man that has done a lot for the state. In the state legislature he brought up the Bishop Estate issues that fell on deaf ears, as many that were serving with him were getting backroom deals, had confilct of interests with the trust, etc. If he chooses to apply for this then he, with his seniority should be named to fill this seat – as he has remained loyal to the democratic party even with the horrible way they have treated him. Even after Abercrombie's wife ran around Manoa taking Case signs out of her neighbor's yards when he was running against Akaka, he still was there for Abercrombie during the gubanatorial primary holding a press conference to let everyone know Hannaman was the "most dangerous politician in Hawaii." Also, he stepped out of the race for Colleen Hanabusa when she was runniing against Dijou for the full term race. He is qualified, honest and would do a great job for Hawaii, especially now.

  3. This makes a good case for term limits. Hawaii's members of congress should not become career politicians who hang onto power decade after decade and then die in office as doddering old men. They should step aside after a few terms and give younger politicians a chance to serve. Inouye's 50-year tenure has deprived Hawaii of a younger member who would be by now well-placed in the Senate power structure. But now Hawaii will have two novices starting from the lowest rungs as Senators – Crazy Mazie and Hanabusa (AKA Mini Mazie).

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