Hawaii’s Governor Neil Abercrombie appoints Lt. Governor Brian Schatz to fill vacancy in wake of Danny Inouye’s death
So concerned about available Democratic votes in the U.S. Senate to deal with the looming fiscal cliff crisis bearing down on the Congress, Hawaii’s Governor Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, wasted no time and appointed Brian Schatz, the former Lieutenant Governor, to fill Hawaii’s rare vacancy due to the death of Danny Inouye last week.
Schatz becomes the youngest U.S. Senator as a 40 year-old, following his swearing in ceremony tomorrow in Washington. He will face an election in 2014 to fill the remainder of Inouye’s term which ends in 2016.
No doubt Majority Leader Harry Reid is counting every Democratic vote, as the Senate prepares to reconvene tomorrow to take up critical business to fashion a legislative vehicle to avoid entering a fiscal abyss on January 1st. Failure to pass any measure would result in immediate tax hikes for nearly every American.
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Schatz becomes the senior senator, because Mazie Hirono, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, won the seat formerly held by Danny Akaka, the junior senator, who retired.
The State Democratic Party met quickly with potential candidates who “applied” for the opening. The last time a vacancy occurred in the Hawaiian U.S. Senate seats happened in April 1990, when Spark Matsunaga died, also in office. This vacancy elevated Danny Akaka to the seat who remained in the Senate until 2012. Given the small delegation–two House seats and two Senate seats, competition when a seat opens is furious and the process is quite dynamic (this reporter formerly worked in the Hawaii State Senate in 1990).
The LGBT community can take heart with this appointment. Schatz participated in the “It Gets Better” project last year, urging LGBT children to have faith that things do get better for LGBT persons. He assured his viewers that “there are people in the State of Hawaii and in the Trevor Project to help” gay youth.
Tanya L. Domi is the Deputy Editor of the New Civil Rights Movement blog. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and teaches human rights in East Central Europe and former Yugoslavia. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi was a nationally recognized LGBT civil rights activist who worked for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force during the campaign to lift the military ban in the early 1990s. Domi has also worked internationally in a dozen countries on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights and gender issues. She is chair of the board of directors for GetEQUAL. Domi is currently writing a book about the emerging LGBT human rights movement in the Western Balkans.
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