Inouye widow endorses Hanabusa
By OSKAR GARCIA
HONOLULU — The widow of longtime U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye in Hawaii is endorsing U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa as she challenges the man appointed to fill Inouye’s shoes after he died.
Irene Hirano Inouye said in a statement Friday that she looks forward to supporting Hanabusa on the campaign trail as she challenges U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in a Democratic primary.
“Shortly after she was elected president of the Hawaii State Senate, Dan recognized that Colleen was more than capable of succeeding him and he began to mentor her,” Hirano Inouye said. “His last wish was that Colleen serve out his term because he was confident in her ability to step into the Senate and immediately help Hawaii.”
The presence of Inouye’s wife in the race assures the late senator — who had a dominant influence on state politics while alive — a key role in guiding Hawaii voters in the first election since his death in December.
Inouye pushed for Hanabusa to replace him, even sending Gov. Neil Abercrombie a letter dated the day he died requesting the appointment, but Abercrombie picked Schatz instead.
Hirano Inouye said supporting Hanabusa honors one of her husband’s last requests.
Schatz said during a campaign stop later Friday that he’s not sure how much Inouye’s legacy will influence the race.
“I’ll leave it to political analysts to try to determine what are the various strains that will influence the campaign, but for my part, Hawaii voters get to choose what kind of future they want,” he said.
“Hawaii voters have an opportunity to make a change,” Schatz said. “Hawaii voters have an opportunity to think about their kids and grandkids and that’s what our campaign is going to be about — it’s going to be about the future.”
Schatz said in a campaign statement earlier in the day that he respects Hirano Inouye’s decision.
“I realize it may be unusual to comment on an opponent’s endorsement, but I have great respect for Irene Inouye and her husband’s legacy to Hawaii,” Schatz said.
Schatz said he called Hirano Inouye when it became clear Hanabusa would run. He said she told him graciously that she would be supporting Hanabusa.
“I told Mrs. Inouye that I understood her decision and assured that, as Hawaii’s Senator, I will continue doing everything in my power to honor Sen. Inouye’s memory and accomplishments,” Schatz said.
Hirano Inouye said Schatz had politely asked if she would remain neutral or endorse him.
While Hirano Inouye’s blessing gives a boost to Hanabusa, Schatz has about $1 million in campaign cash, the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and roughly 20 endorsements from key local groups.
The primary election is in August 2014, with the winner moving on to a general election against a Republican or other opponents. No other major candidates have stepped forward. The winner of the seat will serve through 2016, the end of Inouye’s original term.
Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.