Gov. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, defied the dying wish of Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, by appointing the state’s lieutenant governor to finish the senator’s term rather than Inouye’s preferred successor.
“No one and nothing was pre-ordained,” Abercrombie said today when announcing that Lt. Governor Brian Schatz would finish out Inouye’s term, which ends in 2014. “Of course Senator Inouye’s views and wishes were taken into account fully,” he also said.
“We want to remember and be thankful for all of the Senator’s good works for the State of Hawaii and the Nation,” Abercrombie wrote yesterday in asking the state Democratic Party to provide three nominees to replace Inouye. “We will do that.”
The state party reportedly proposed “Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Deputy State Land and Natural Resources Director Esther Kiaaina and Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz,” per ABC.
Inouye tried to get the seat for Hanabusa by making it known that it was his dying wish that Abercrombie appoint her to succeed her.
“I hope you will grant me my last wish,” Inouye wrote in a letter to Abercrombie, which his staff then provided to the media. “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.”
Abercrombie, who faces reelection in two years, is possibly taking a risk by defying Inouye’s last request. “Can you make it any more dramatic than Inouye specifically saying (appointing Hanabusa) is a deathbed wish?” John Hart, professor and chair of the Hawaii Pacific University Department of Communication, told the Honolulu Civil Beat. “And on the other hand of the political drama, if Abercrombie wants to say there’s a new sheriff in town, there would be nothing more dramatic than denying the senator’s deathbed wish.”