Turnover Shakes Up Aloha State Delegation

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted January 2, 2013 at 9:19pm

The lack of turnover in the Aloha State’s congressional delegation will officially come to an end Thursday at noon as the 113th Congress kicks off, and there is potential for more shakeups in just two years.

With the retirement of Sen. Daniel K. Akaka and death last month of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Democrats who each served for decades, the officeholders in three of Hawaii’s four seats in both chambers will be new to their positions. It remains an all-Democrat delegation.

Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz was quickly sworn in last week after being appointed by the governor to serve in Inouye’s place for the next two years. After winning elections in November, Rep. Mazie K. Hirono will succeed Akaka in the Senate, and Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard will succeed Hirono in the House. Only Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who was passed over for the Senate appointment by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, will remain in her seat.

The state could have even more upheaval two years from now when Schatz runs to serve the remaining two years of Inouye’s term. With Senate seats rarely coming open in Hawaii, Schatz could face a stiff primary challenge, including from within the delegation.

On Dec. 27, Schatz became just the sixth senator from Hawaii since the former territory became a state in 1959. Hirono will become the seventh on Thursday, and Gabbard will be the 13th person to represent Hawaii in the House since then.