How to Become a Senator in 19 Hours: The Brian Schatz Story

J.K. Trotter
How to Become a Senator in 19 Hours: The Brian Schatz Story

Ten days after the death of Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, the governor of Hawaii named Brian Schatz, the state's Lieutenant Governor and a Democrat, as Inouye's replacement Wednesday night. By Thursday just after lunchtime, Joe Biden was swearing him into the famous book of Senators. The ascent of Schatz, 40, from lieutenant governor is rather charmed — according to the Washington Post, he's a non-entity outside of state-level Hawaii politics. And even in Hawaii, he wasn't always a popular figure. In a six-way race in the state's Democratic primary, in 2006, Schatz drew a piddling seven percent of the vote. In 2010, however, he won a seven-way primary for lieutenant governor, after which he joined Neil Abercrombie, who went on to win the governorship and, two years later, appoint Schatz as Inouye's successor, against the explicit wish of Inouye that Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa be appointed instead. But he's young, and the Democrats' senior leadership in the Senate is pretty senior. Schatz was sworn is just this afternoon, a remarkable turnaround not just for Schatz, but for the Senate itself:

The Senate really can work fast when it wants. Brian Schatz picked for Senate at 7 p.m. EST in Hawaii and sworn in 2:36 p.m. next day in DC

— carl hulse (@hillhulse) December 27, 2012

And, yes, since you were wondering: Schatz seems to be enjoying his newfound fame:

Just had a nice, brief chat with the President on Air Force One. Looking forward to supporting his agenda in the Senate.

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) December 27, 2012