Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz will be sworn in today to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the passing of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced the appointment yesterday. “I make this decision with full confidence that Brian’s appointment is in the best interest of the State of Hawaii and the nation,” said Abercrombie.
Schatz was one of three finalists, along with Esther Kiaaina and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, to fill the position that Sen. Inouye held for the past half a century. He will serve in the U.S. Senate — at least until he is up for election in 2014 — alongside Mazie Hirono who recently won election to fill Sen. Daniel Akaka’s seat.
“I look forward to partnering with Senator-appointee Brian Schatz, Representative Colleen Hanabusa and Representative-elect Tulsi Gabbard as Hawaii’s federal delegation,” said Hirono in a prepared statement. “With the important issues facing our nation and state, including taking responsible action to avoid the fiscal cliff, it is imperative that Hawaii’s voice be represented in the United States Senate.”
It is unclear where Schatz stands on Molokai issues. While he has been a strong advocate for environmental issues, he has not made any statements regarding the labeling of GMO foods, the presence of Monsanto on Molokai, the proposed undersea power cable or the industrial-scale wind power projects for Lanai and Molokai.
When Schatz visited Molokai on Dec. 8, 2010, for the governor’s confirmation aha’aina, he did pledge to make state politics less focused on only the interests of Oahu.
“I want you to know it was intentional that we were here first,” said Schatz at the confirmation, “because we do feel that the leadership in the state of Hawaii ought to be coming from Molokai, not to Molokai.” This statement was greeted with hearty applause at the Kalanianaole Hall.
Schatz was inaugurated as the 11th Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawaii On Dec. 6, 2010. Before being elected Lieutenant Governor, he served for eight years as the CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii, one of Hawaii’s largest non-profit community social services organizations.
From 2008 to 2010, Schatz was the chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. He also chaired President Barack Obama’s campaign in Hawaii in 2008.
From 1998 to 2006, Schatz was a member of the State House of Representatives, representing the state’s 25th district. During this time, he served as the House Majority Whip, Chair of the Economic Development Committee, Vice-Chair of Water, Land and Ocean Resources, Vice-Chair of Consumer Protection and Commerce, and as a member of the Hawaiian Affairs, Higher Education, Energy and Environmental Protection, and Agriculture Committees.
Schatz was raised in Hawaii, and graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. He is married to Linda Kwok Schatz, an architect. They have a son and daughter.