Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie defied late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s dying wish in his appointment to fill the seat today.
Inouye reportedly asked the Democratic governor, in a letter delivered just hours before he passed away, to appoint Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) to his seat.
“While I understand that selecting someone to serve out the remainder of my term is fully your responsibility, I respectfully request that U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa succeed me, and continue the work, together with Mazie, on behalf of Hawaii in the U.S. Senate,” Inouye wrote on his official letterhead. “Colleen possesses the intellect, presence and legislative skill to succeed in the Senate. I have no doubt that she will represent Hawaii with the same fervor and commitment that I brought to the Senate chamber since 1962.”
Abercrombie told media that the contents of the letter were personal, but Inouye’s staff soon after released the letter to the press.
Moments ago, Abercrombie named 40-year-old Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to fill Inouye’s seat until the 2014 general election.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reportedly just wanted the seat filled fast so he could have all the fiscal cliff votes he can get. Schatz is leaving for D.C. tonight and will be sworn in when the Senate re-convenes tomorrow.
“I fully respect the process and the governor’s right to appoint a successor,” Hanabusa said in a statement.
Hawaii will have another new senator at the beginning of the 113th Congress — Mazie Hirono (D), who won the seat of retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii).