After more than two decades of service to Hawaii in the United States Senate, Daniel K. Akaka announced today that he would not seek re-election in 2012.
Well known for the eponymous legislation that would give greater autonomy and recognition to Native Hawaiians, Sen. Akaka released a statement that said this was a “ difficult decision” for him.
“I feel that the end of this Congress is the right time for me to step aside. It has been a great honor and privilege to serve the people of Hawaii,” wrote Akaka today. “In 2006, the people of Hawaii gave me an opportunity to continue my service in the United States Senate and I fully intend to serve the last two years of my term in office.”
Congresswoman Mazie Hirono said, “For the past 35 years, Senator Akaka has been a powerful advocate for the people of Hawaii. I am grateful for his life of service to Hawaii and our nation … As to whether I will seek the Senate seat, it is premature for me to make such a decision. I am concentrating on the work at hand: creating jobs and supporting middle class families.”
Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann also declined to discuss his possible interest in the Senate seat. “While some may be curious, there will be plenty of time to discuss my own personal plans in light of his announcement … Today, however, is a day to sing Senator Akaka’s praises. And there is much to sing about.”
President Obama also issued a statement today regarding Akaka’s announcement:
“Danny Akaka answered the call to serve right after high school by joining the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. When he returned to Honolulu, he continued to serve the people of Hawaii as an educator before embarking on more than three decades of distinguished service in both houses of Congress. Danny spent his career fighting for our troops, veterans and their families and for the rights of Native Hawaiians. He worked tirelessly to reform Wall Street and to make sure that consumers and small business owners are treated fairly in our system. His voice in the Senate will be missed. Michelle and I would like to join the people of Hawai’i in saying ‘mahalo’ to Danny for his lifetime of service and offer both him and Millie our best wishes for the future.”
In his farewell statement, Akaka had this to say:
“Millie and I will return to Hawaii at the end of this Congress and spend time with our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I would also like to spend time documenting my life and career, and serving as a mentor to future political leaders. I have always strived to serve the people with much love and aloha, never forgetting my humble beginnings, and it is my hope that they, too, will continue this tradition. We must never forget that we, as political leaders, work for the people of Hawaii and not the special interests.
“I will always cherish the time I spent working in Washington, D.C., and extend my heartfelt thanks to the people of Hawaii for their confidence in me.
“I would like to thank my family, my staff and my friends for their unwavering support. I would like to especially thank my wife, Millie, for her continuous support and encouragement. I could not have done it without her.
“Finally, I would like to thank Senator Dan Inouye. I will forever be grateful for his friendship and steadfast support.”
With some of the extended Akaka ohana living on Molokai, his representation in the upper house of Congress will certainly be missed locally. Aloha and good luck from everyone on Molokai.