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Hawaii: Governor to Appoint Democrat to Serve Until 2014

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, will have a limited choice of successors to appoint to succeed the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

According to Hawaii election official, the governor will choose from a list of three candidates submitted to him by the state Democratic Party. The appointee will serve until November 2014, when a special election will be held to fill the final two years of Inouye’s current term.

Abercrombie is not required to make the appointment by any particular date.

On Monday, Democratic sources in the Aloha State and in Washington, D.C., talked up the following potential candidates for the seat:

  • Irene Inouye: The late senator’s widow serves as president of the U.S.-Japan Council, according to her biography.
  • Rep. Colleen Hanabusa: The one-term Democrat toyed with running for Senate this past cycle but deferred to Sen.-elect Mazie K. Hirono in the primary.
  • Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz: The former party chairman is an establishment favorite. He has also demonstrated an interest in coming to Capitol Hill from his unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2006.
  • Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann: He’s run for Congress three times, including most recently in 2012, when he lost to Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat. He also challenged Abercrombie in the gubernatorial primary in 2010, which makes the governor less likely to appoint him.
  • Former Rep. Ed Case is not a party favorite since he challenged Sen. Daniel K. Akaka in 2006. But that doesn’t mean he won’t try to be considered for the appointment — or run in the special election in 2014.

Although Hawaii remains a staunchly Democratic state, Republicans could try to make a play for the 2014 special election by attempting to recruit former two-term Republican Gov. Linda Lingle to run. Lingle lost badly in her 2012 Senate bid, but she is one of the few Hawaii Republicans to have had success in the Aloha State in recent years.

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