Obama Endorses in Competitive Hawaii Senate Primary

Schatz faces a primary in August. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Schatz faces a primary in August. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted March 31, 2014 at 12:28pm

President Barack Obama has endorsed Sen. Brian Schatz in Hawaii — a move that could help the appointed senator in a competitive Democratic primary in the Aloha State later this year.  

“I have worked with Senator Schatz on the issues that matter to Hawaii. Brian’s deep commitment to the people of Hawaii and his effective leadership are why I believe it is important to return him to the Senate,” Obama said in a Monday news release. “Senator Schatz is protecting Hawaii’s values and fighting every day on behalf of middle-class families.” Schatz was appointed to his seat in December 2012 following the death of longtime Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii. The senator will face two-term Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, in the Aug. 9 primary.  

Shortly before his death, Inouye said he wanted Hanabusa to succeed him in the Senate. But Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, appointed Schatz , then his lieutenant governor, instead.  

Despite his sinking approval ratings nationwide, Obama’s endorsement could prove especially helpful in Hawaii — the president’s birthplace and a strong state for Democrats.  

But Obama’s support is not entirely surprising .  

Schatz was an early backer in Hawaii. As a state representative, Schatz helped launch a group in Hawaii in 2006 urging Obama to run. He later worked as a spokesperson for the Obama campaign in 2008.  

Hanabusa, on the other hand, served as a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton ‘s failed 2008 bid in Hawaii.  

The Democratic nominee will be the heavy favorite to be the next senator from the Aloha State.  

The race is rated Safe Democratic by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.