New Hawaii Lt. Governor Sworn Into Office After Political Musical Chairs

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Shan Tsutsui sworn in as Lt. Governor of Hawaii on January 3, 2013 – Photo by Mel Ah Ching

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – With his wife and three daughters by his side, Shan Tsutsui was sworn in as Hawaii’s 12th Lieutenant Governor on Thursday, January 3, during a 13-minute ceremony at the Governor’s office in the Hawaii State Capitol.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie introduced Tsutsui, and spoke for nearly 8 minutes about the historic day for Hawaii, the actual swearing in was officiated by Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald and took just a minute.


Tsutsui, who rarely speaks publicly, kept his remarks brief, thanking his family, friends, Senate colleagues and the governor for their support

A Maui native, Tsutsui replaces Hawaii’s former Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz who was sworn in as the state’s newest U.S. Senator on Thursday, December 27, 2012, in a ceremony in Washington D.C.

Abercrombie named Schatz as the replacement for U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, Hawaii’s senior senator who died on December 17. Under Hawaii law, the Senate President has the choice as to whether to become lieutenant governor, and after consulting with his wife, Lyndelle Lee Tsutsui, and three daughters, Mikayla, Kaylee and Kenna, and his Senate colleagues, Tsutsui accepted the position.

Tsutsui, 41, was Hawaii’s youngest ever Senate president and the first from the island of Maui. The Democrat, who led the Senate judiciously, has served in the legislature for 10 years since 2002.

Abercrombie wooed Tsutsui by promising to establish a new branch of the Office of the Lt. Governor on Maui, while also continuing to operate the Lt. governor’s office just across from his on the 5th floor of the State Capitol in Honolulu.

“In the past, Neighbor Island elected officials might have thought they had to move to Honolulu in order to serve,” Abercrombie said at the announcement. “In my view, this may no longer be necessary, especially as technology brings us closer together and the state’s IT transformation plan affords greater opportunities to conduct state business from all islands.”

Shan Tsutsui named Lt. Governor (photo by Mel Ah Ching)

Tsutsui brings a background in business and economics to the position. Tsutsui is a 1989 graduate of Maui High School and a 1994 graduate of the University of Hawaii where he earned a BA in economics.  He previously served as Vice Chair of Ways and Means and Majority Caucus Leader.

While Senate Vice President Donna Mercado Kim almost immediately took over Tsutsui position as president of the Senate, Abercrombie will take a bit longer to appoint Tsutsui’s replacement.

Maui Democrats will provide the governor with their three top candidates to replace Tsutsui.  Should Abercrombie promote one of the two House members from Tsutsui’s district to the Senate position, he will then appoint another member of the Democratic Party to fill the House position.





  1. Congratulations ~ "Shan Tsutsui was sworn in as Hawaii's 12th Lieutenant Governor" … good news for Home Rule protocol observances with decentralization of government seats' – out reach improvement.

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