PBS Newshour on the Hawaii senate vacancy

Here’s the take of the PBS Newshour on Hawaii’s open senate seat, broadcast last night.


Let’s move to another state and Hawaii. Very dramatically, last week, Senator Daniel Inouye died. And in a letter written to the governor, who gets decide who picks his seat, he actually stated his preference about who he wants to succeed him.


There are a lot of interesting elements with this. And one thing, it actually is very similar to what happened when Teddy Kennedy passed away in Massachusetts. In fall 2009 — or actually in summer 2009, he sent letter to Deval Patrick saying basically that he really wanted them to change the law in Massachusetts so that somebody would be able to fill that seat during the critical time when they were debating health care reform.

And then somebody would run for the special election. Well, in Hawaii, basically, what Daniel Inouye said was, I really want someone to be able to fill my seat. And I really hope that is Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who has not been there very long. He’s very close to her. He said that he felt that she would represent him with fervor, represent the state with fervor and sort of be in his own mold.

And he said he respectfully requested that. What is interesting about this is Gov. Abercrombie, a former member of Congress himself, didn’t release that letter. The senator’s — the late senator’s office is the one who released that letter. There’s some political pressure going on and it’s essentially as they’re having this fiscal cliff negotiation, so that is why it mirrors 2009.

GWEN IFILL: Gov. Abercrombie, Shira, is it a slam-dunk that Colleen Hanabusa, who was on the dying man’s lips practically, gets this job or are other people still trying to figure a way in?

SHIRA TOEPLITZ: Well, what’s going to happen this week is the Hawaii Democratic State Central Committee is going to meet.

And they’re going to give, according to state law, the governor three names of people who he could appoint to the seat. As long as Colleen Hanabusa makes that list — and it is looking very, very likely that she will — the governor will most likely appoint her. It would be very difficult for the governor to ignore such a legend as Daniel Inouye’s last and final wish to appoint this woman to his seat.

Interesting take, although I don’t think that Gov. Abercrombie will feel locked in by the Senator’s recommendation.

But we’ll see very shortly.

32 responses to “PBS Newshour on the Hawaii senate vacancy

  1. SA: Hawaii Democrats today recommended U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz and deputy director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Esther Kiaaina to replace the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye in the Senate.
    Gov. Neil Abercrombie is expected to make the appointment soon after he receives the names so the new senator can be sworn in to vote on the fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January.

  2. Schatz.

  3. Yes, the “NJB” is the next senator…and a different domino sequence is catalyzed.
    Can you see Calvin and Neil seeing eye to eye?
    Interesting 2014 shaping up…

  4. BTW cwd,
    Now that its over what was the system / rules used to determine the nominees?
    I’m curious as to how many applicants could have been considered in the Inouye faction of the Party?
    I like the choice of Schatz…I hope that all of the current delegation stay in their places and establish some expertise/ seniority before their ambitions propel them to venture to the next level.
    I’m talking to you Coleen and Tulsi…prove yourselves in the House, we need your best efforts.

  5. Anyone who is a member of the Democratic Party of Hawaii for at least six months and has not been censured for acting against the Party’s rules, positions, and platform could apply. Fourteen people did so. At least five others decided not to apply for a variety of reasons.

    All applicants provided a CV or resume plus a written set of statements about what they feel are the most important issues facing Hawai`i and the United States.

    All applications had to be received by 5 pm on Monday, December 24, and were vetted as to their membership. The papers were sent out later that evening.

    I printed them out and carried them with me to read between the Diamond Head Classic Basketball Tournament games yesterday at the Stan Sheriff Center at UH-Manoa.

    In addition to the members of the State Central Committee, the public as well as the media met this morning at the Party headquarters and listened to each of the applicants.

    Several applicants as well as Committee members called in by phone or used computer technology because they could not be there in person.

    Then everyone not authorized to vote left the facility.

    For approximately 40 minutes, about 30 members spoke up on behalf of the candidate(s) they supported, Perhaps as many as six also addressed their concerns about voting for several of the candidates.

    Yes, I spoke on behalf on Brian Schatz and briefly described his three major areas of concern: the environment, social justice matters, and human services.

    Then the Secretary went through the members alphabetically who orally stated for whom they were voting. Most of them voted for three applicants although I, along with four others, only voted for one or two of the candidates.

    Then, the two Democratic Party of Hawaii staff members with several SCC members watching tallied up the votes. The top three were announced and their names were sent to the Governor.

    The process was completed around 10:30 am – sorry I didn’t look at my watch, but I was back at my office in Kailua shortly before noon.

    There were about a dozen media people outside the DPH office. Although we had been ordered not to announce the decision, someone posted the three names within minutes on a Facebook page.

    Not me!! I don’t do Facebook. I didn’t even tell my SigOth what the results were although he called me about ten minutes later to say that the results were on the Breaking News section of the Star-Advertiser.

    Abercrombie had stated yesterday that he would announce his selection this afternoon. Shortly before 1 pm, I received an e-mail and a telephone call stating that the Governor would be holding a press conference at 2 pm.

    As soon as I finished my work task, I immediately drove back into town and arrived at the Capitol about 1:40 pm.

    To summarize – the process was open.

    Brian and his family will be flying to Washington, DC this evening with President Obama. Brian will be sworn into office tomorrow about 8 am Hawai`i time.

    However, confirm the time later on this evening if you want to watch it live on one of the news channels.

    Brian’s top two priorities are Native Hawaiian issues and climate change in terms of its long-term impacts on the world. Climate change issues are what keep me going and going and going.

    Obviously, he’ll be working on fiscal issues plus he will be collaborating with the other three members to address the wide range of concerns our Congressional Delegation will be facing over the next two years.

    Mahalo to my SCC colleagues for supporting Brian and Double Mahalos to Neil Abercrombie.

    • This ain’t a sports blog but rarely have I been as tantalized and frustrated by a UH men’s basketball team as this one. If only we had a true point guard!

  6. Well, the fact that Schatz is flying out on Air Force One speaks volumes as to who the White House preferred. This can only be interpreted as a good thing. Flying back to D.C. under the wings of the President — we couldn’t have hoped for a better result.

  7. The pundits were wrong on this one, obviously.

  8. Schatz was not, unambiguously, an Abercrombie man. He was, clearly, an Obama man.
    Anyone who reported that Hanabusa was a the favorite didn’t know Neil. Remember, his Mother “stamped her shoe” when faced with authority, and he is his Mothers son.

    • Neil didn’t rely on the support of Inouye to get to where he is today. Two years ago, the late senator didn’t provide much help to Abercrombie in his primary election faceoff against Mufi, despite the two serving together in DC for a couple of decades. And despite this, Inouye’s chief of staff expressed being “very disappointed” that Neil didn’t heed her boss’ dying wish? Talk about being tone deaf to the reality of the situation.

      Even if the rumors are true about Inouye’s faction dropping hints that Hanabusa would come home to run against Abercrombie in ’14 if she wasn’t appointed senator…. the SCC vote tally makes it clear. The Democratic Party’s old guard no longer calls all the shots and any “threats” that they might have made towards Neil in regards to his upcoming re-election campaign is about as scary as a toothless dog.

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