Dec. 26, 2012 — -- Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced tonight Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz will replace the late Sen. Daniel Inouye as the U.S. senator from Hawaii -- not Sen. Inouye's first choice.
On the day he died, the late senator wrote a letter to Abercrombie asking that he pick Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, to replace him.
Hanabusa made it to the final round of consideration, but she did not win the nomination.
"The charge of the central committee was to take all points of view into account, from Sen. Inouye and from the rank and file -- the Democratic grass roots," Abercrombie said during a news conference on Wednesday evening. "No one and nothing was preordained."
Schatz served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1998 to 2006. In 2006, he launched an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. Congress.
Schatz served as chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii from 2008 to 2010. He was sworn in as lieutenant governor in December 2010.
Schatz named two priorities for his new appointment that rarely see action on the Senate floor: native Hawaiian recognition and climate change.
"For me, personally, I believe global climate change is real, and it is the most urgent challenge of our generation," Schatz said.
Schatz planned to leave on a flight tonight and be sworn in sometime Thursday afternoon. He would bring his wife, two children and both his parents to Washington.
The White House later said Schatz would fly back to Washington with President Obama aboard Air Force One tonight.
The Hawaii Democratic Party met Wednesday morning to select three finalists to take the seat left vacant by Inouye's death.
Hawaii News Now reported the names on the short list. They included Hanabusa, Deputy State Land and Natural Resources Director Esther Kiaaina and Schatz. The HDP chastised whoever gave the names to the paper on its Facebook page shortly after the Hawaii News Now article was updated.
"Apparently, some of us DO NOT respect the process. The list was leaked to the press. tsk ... tsk ... tsk ...," the post said, linking to the HNN piece.
About half an hour earlier, the group had made a post saying it would not announce the names, leaving that responsibility to the governor.
Though she did not make the short list of replacements, more than 150 people signed an online petition urging the governor and the Democratic Party to nominate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to take Inouye's spot.
Gabbard is a veteran and the first Hindu woman elected to the House of Representatives. She has yet to start her first term as a member of Congress.
Actor and former White House staffer Kal Penn tweeted his support for Gabbard, linking to the petition.