NEW YORK – Barack Obama has overruled the wish of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, to name a Japanese-American congresswoman as his Senate successor, choosing instead to reward a Hawaii ally who played a key role in sidestepping Obama’s birth certificate controversy to certify him for the Hawaii presidential ballot in 2008.
On his deathbed, Inouye’s last wish was to ask Hawaii Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie to name U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa as his successor.
Hanabusa will “represent Hawaii with the same fervor and commitment that I brought to the Senate chamber since 1962,” Inouye wrote Abercrombie, as reported by Hawaii’s KHON-TV.
Everything seemed in place for Hanabusa until Obama decided to take the family to Hawaii for Christmas.
“We have a death-bed wish from a senator that is about the 30th person to lie in state at the Capitol. I think chances of that not happening are slim to none,” John Hart, chairman of Hawaii Pacific University’s Communications Department, told the Hawaii television station.
When Hawaii’s Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz flew back to Washington, there was no doubt Abercrombie succumbed to the wishes of Obama in making the final determination of Inouye’s successor.
Schatz posted on Twitter a statement indicating he had a “brief chat” with Obama on Air Force One and that he was looking forward to supporting Obama’s agenda in the Senate.
In 2008, Schatz, then serving as head of the Democratic Party in Hawaii and a spokesman for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, entered the Obama birth certificate controversy. He declined to request from the Hawaii Department of Health documented proof Obama was eligible to run for president, as evidenced by an original record of Obama’s 1961 birth records, which are kept under wraps in the Hawaii Department of Health vault.
Hawaii law requires each party to specify in writing that the presidential candidate is constitutionally eligible.
As WND reported, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in her capacity as chairwoman of the Democratic National Convention, provided the required certification by submitting to the Hawaii specifying Obama that specified Obama was eligible, a representation Pelosi omitted on the certifications submitted for Obama in the other 49 states.
“While we are very disappointed that [Inouye’s deathbed wish] was not honored, it was the governor’s decision to make,” Jennifer Sabas, Inouye’s chief of staff said in a statement reported by the Associated Press. “We wish Brian Schatz the best of luck.”
Schatz, who is expected to be sworn in Thursday, will serve until an election for Inouye’s seat is held in 2014.
He told the Associated Press he intends to run for re-election to try to keep the Senate seat until 2016, the end of Inouye’s term, and that he plans to run again for Senate in 2016.
Hanabusa, according to her congressional website, is a Yonsei, fourth generation American of Japanese ancestry, whose grandparents were interned during World War II.
In 2007, she became president of the Hawaii Senate, the first woman to lead either house in the Hawaii legislature.
Hanabusa congratulated Schatz in a statement, as reported by Hawaii News Now, in which she said she respects the “governor’s right to appoint a successor.”