Brian Schatz

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Brian Schatz
Brian Schatz, official portrait, 113th Congress 2.jpg
United States Senator
from Hawaii
Assumed office
December 26, 2012
Serving with Mazie Hirono
Preceded by Daniel Inouye
11th Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
In office
December 6, 2010 – December 26, 2012
Governor Neil Abercrombie
Preceded by Duke Aiona
Succeeded by Shan Tsutsui
Chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii
In office
May 2008 – January 2010
Preceded by Jeani Withington
Succeeded by Dante Carpenter
Member of the Hawaii House of Representatives
from the 25th district
In office
November 3, 2002 – November 7, 2006
Preceded by Kenneth Hiraki
Succeeded by Della Au Belatti
Member of the Hawaii House of Representatives
from the 24th district
In office
November 3, 1998 – November 3, 2002
Preceded by Sam Aiona
Succeeded by Kirk Caldwell
Personal details
Born Brian Emanuel Schatz
(1972-10-20) October 20, 1972 (age 42)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Linda Kwok Kai Yun
Children 2
Alma mater Pomona College

Brian Emanuel Schatz (pronounced /ʃɑːtz/; born October 20, 1972) is an American politician who is the senior United States Senator for Hawaii. Schatz was appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie to replace the U.S. senator Daniel Inouye after his death in 2012.

Schatz served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1998 to 2006, where he represented the 25th Legislative District, and was chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii from 2008 to 2010. He also worked as chief executive officer of Helping Hands Hawaii, an Oahu nonprofit social service agency, until he resigned to run for Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii in the 2010 Hawaii gubernatorial election as the running mate of Neil Abercrombie.[1] He served as lieutenant governor until December 26, 2012, when Abercrombie appointed Schatz to serve out Daniel Inouye's U.S. Senate term until the 2014 special election.[2] Upon his swearing-in, Schatz was the youngest U.S. Senator in the 112th Congress; in the 113th Congress, he is the fourth-youngest, after Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Schatz won the 2014 special election to complete his term.

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Schatz was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the son of Barbara and Irwin Schatz, a cardiologist and native of Saint Boniface, Manitoba.[3][4] When Brian was two years old, his family moved to Hawaii,[5] where he graduated from Punahou School.[6][7] Schatz enrolled at Pomona College in Claremont, California; he spent a term studying in Kenya as part of the International Training Program, where he developed skills in public service.[8] After graduating with a B.A. in philosophy, he returned to Hawaii, where he taught at Punahou before taking other jobs in the nonprofit sector. He became active in the community through his involvement in Youth for Environmental Services in the 1980s. He served as CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii and director of the Makiki Community Library and of the Center for a Sustainable Future. In March 2010, Schatz stepped down from Helping Hands to run for lieutenant governor.[9]

Hawaii House of Representatives (1998–2006)[edit]


In 1998, Schatz, a Democrat, challenged the incumbent State Representative of the 24th District of the Hawaii House of Representatives, Republican Sam Aiona, and won, 53%-47%.[10] In the 2000 rematch, he was re-elected, 57%-43%.[11] In 2002, he ran in the newly redrawn 25th House district, and defeated Republican Bill Hols, 69%-31%.[12] In 2004, he defeated Republican Tracy Okubo 64%-36%.[13] The 25th district, one of the densest and most diverse areas of urban Honolulu, includes Makiki, McCully, and Tantalus on the island of Oahu.

Committee assignments As Hawai‘i’s senior United States Senator, Brian serves on three Senate Committees essential to the future of Hawai‘i: Appropriations, Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Indian Affairs. Senator Schatz is also just one of three Democrats on the Select Committee on Ethics. [14]

Political career (2006–10)[edit]

2006 congressional election[edit]

Schatz ran for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, being vacated by incumbent U.S. Congressman Ed Case, who had decided to run for the U.S. Senate. The Democratic primary featured 10 candidates, seven of whom served in the Hawaii Legislature. Mazie Hirono, the Lieutenant Governor, was the only one who had held statewide office and thus enjoyed the most name recognition. She also raised more money than any other candidate in the race, mostly because of the endorsement of EMILY's List,[15] and gave her campaign a personal loan of $100,000. Still, she won with just 22% of the vote, just 845 votes ahead of State Senator Colleen Hanabusa. State Representative Schatz ranked sixth with 7% of the vote, behind Hirono and four state senators.[16][17]

Support for Obama[edit]

Schatz, one of the earliest supporters of Barack Obama for president, founded a group with other Hawaii Democrats in December 2006 to urge Obama to run. Schatz said, "For the last six years we've been governed by fear, fear of terrorists, fear of other countries, even fear of the other party...everyone is governing by fear and Barack Obama changes all of that. He wants to govern the United States by hope."[18] In 2008, Schatz worked as spokesman for Obama's campaign in Hawaii.[19]

State Chairman[edit]

In April 2008, he began running for the position of chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii,[20] and won the job at the state convention the following month. During his tenure, the Democrats increased the number of active party members and delivered Obama's best performance of any state in the country. Hawaii native Obama won the state with 73% of the vote, when just 55% of the state voted for Democratic nominee John Kerry in United States presidential election in Hawaii, 2004. Schatz stepped down on January 9, 2010.[21]

Lieutenant Governor (2010–12)[edit]

2010 election[edit]

Schatz, his wife, Linda Kwok Kai Yun Schatz; incoming Hawaii First Lady Nancie Caraway; and Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie on Election Day 2010.

On January 10, 2010, Schatz announced his candidacy for the office of lieutenant governor.[22] Schatz's campaign priorities included the creation of clean-energy jobs, public education, and technological improvements in the public sector. He has also declared his support for Hawaii House Bill 444,[23] which would have allowed same-sex civil unions in Hawaii had it not been vetoed by Republican Governor Linda Lingle.[24] A number of Hawaii labor unions endorsed Schatz for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary election, held statewide on September 18, 2010.[25]


On December 6, 2010, Schatz was inaugurated as Hawaii's 11th lieutenant governor alongside Neil Abercrombie, who had defeated incumbent Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona for the governor's seat. Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice James Duffy administered the oath of office at the Coronation Pavilion on the grounds of ʻIolani Palace.

U.S. Senate (2012–present)[edit]


Shortly before Sen. Daniel Inouye died on December 17, 2012,[26] he dictated a letter to Governor Neil Abercrombie, asking that U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa be appointed to finish out his term.[27][28]

Hawaii law on interim appointments to the U.S. Senate requires the governor to choose from three candidates selected by the party of the previous officeholder. On December 26, 2012, the Hawaii Democratic Party nominated Schatz, Hanabusa, and Esther Kia'aina, the deputy director of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. The same day, Abercrombie named Schatz to the job, despite Inouye's request.[29] Later that night, Schatz accompanied President Barack Obama back to Washington, D.C. on Air Force One.[30] On December 27 Schatz was sworn in as a senator by Vice President Joseph Biden.

Schatz's appointment to Inouye's seat on December 27, 2012 made him the senior senator from Hawaii (Mazie Hirono, who was elected that November to replace retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka, took office just one week later on January 3, 2013). He is the sixth person to represent Hawaii in the U.S. Senate, and the first non-Asian American to serve since Oren E. Long.

2014 election[edit]

Schatz announced his intention to run for election in the special election to be held in 2014. In April 2013, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa announced she would oppose Schatz in the primary. The core of the Schatz campaign was climate change and renewable energy,[31] and fieldwork from the Super-PAC Climate Hawks Vote has been credited with possibly putting Schatz over the top in a close election.[32] Schatz defeated Hanabusa by 1,782 votes (0.75 percent)[33] in an election delayed in two precincts by Hurricane Iselle.[34]

Schatz went on to win the general election with about 70% of the vote.[35]

Committee assignments[edit]

Political positions[edit]

LGBT rights[edit]

As lieutenant governor, Schatz indicated his support for same-sex marriage.[36]


In one of his first votes as senator, he voted against renewing the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012.[37]

Gun laws[edit]

On April 17, 2013, Schatz voted to expand background checks for gun purchases.[38]

Global warming[edit]

Schatz participated in an overnight talkathon on behalf of climate change while the League of Conservation Voters, a group supporting the talkathon, was running campaign ads on Schatz's behalf.[39] During a debate on the Senate floor, Schatz said, "For several days in July of 2012, Greenland surface ice cover melted more than at any time in 30 years of satellite observation. During that month, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet thawed." Politifact rated this statement as only "half true" since he referred to the ice sheet, rather than the surface ice.[citation needed]


In order to encourage tourism in West Hawaii, Schatz is currently proposing that Customs begins in Japan so that planes can arrive in West Hawaii as domestic flights.[40]

Personal life[edit]

Schatz is married to Linda Kwok Kai Yun Schatz and has a son, Tyler, and a daughter, Mia.

Brian's identical twin brother, Steve, runs the Hawaii Department of Education's Office of Strategic Reform.[41]

His father, Dr. Irwin Schatz,[42] in 1964, was the first to publicly identify the injustice of the Tuskegee Study, and remained an influential critic of the study through his life.[43]


  1. ^ DePledge, Derrick (November 2, 2010). "Abercrombie trumps Aiona to become Hawaii's next governor". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved November 3, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Schatz appointed to fill Sen. Inouye's seat". KITV. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  3. ^ Irwin Schatz, M.D.
  4. ^ KITV (2012-12-27). "Schatz sworn in as Hawaii's 6th U.S. senator". Retrieved 2015-01-04. 
  5. ^ Arndt, Danielle (December 27, 2012). "Ann Arbor native Brian Schatz named U.S. senator for Hawaii". Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Brian Schatz". Honolulu Civil Beat. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Punahou School: Brian Schatz '90". 2010-12-06. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  8. ^ '+ $(this).text() + ' (2012-12-26). "Brian Schatz '94 Appointed to U.S. Senate Representing Hawaii — Pomona College". Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  9. ^ Schatz lending a hand full-time to politics by Duane Shimogawa, Hawaii News Now, May 16, 2010.
  10. ^ "HI State House 24 Race — Nov 03, 1998". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  11. ^ "HI State House 24 Race — Nov 07, 2000". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  12. ^ "HI State House 25 Race — Nov 05, 2002". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  13. ^ "HI State House 25 Race — Nov 02, 2004". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Carries Giddins. "Emily's list announces endorsement of Mazie Hirono for Hawaii's 2nd congressional District", "Essential Elements.". Retrieved June 14, 2006.
  16. ^ "HI District 2 - D Primary Race". Our Campaigns. September 23, 2006. Retrieved June 3, 2012. 
  17. ^ Rachel Kapochunas. "Akaka Survives Challenge from Case in Hawaii Democratic Primary", cqpolitics. Retrieved September 24, 2006.
  18. ^ "Hawaii group launches Obama for president effort". December 14, 2006. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  19. ^ Who Is Brian Schatz, the New U.S. Senator From Hawaii?,, Dec. 27, 2012.
  20. ^ "Brian Schatz running for chair of Hawaii Democratic Party". KPUA Hawaii News. April 14, 2008. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Schatz stepping down as Hawaii Democratic Party chair". Hawaii News Now. December 4, 2009. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  22. ^ Brian Schatz Enters Race for Lieutenant Governor, KHON2, January 1, 2010
  23. ^ LG style Q and A with Brian Schatz by Rangar Carlson, Honolulu Weekly, June 30, 2010
  24. ^ Lingle vetoes civil unions bill, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, July 6, 2010.
  25. ^ 2010 Elections website of Hawaii Office of Elections. Retrieved July 20, 2010
  26. ^ McFadden, Robert D. (17 December 2012). "Daniel Inouye, Hawaii’s Quiet Voice of Conscience in Senate, Dies at 88". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  27. ^ DePledge, Derrick (17 December 2012). "Inouye wanted Hanabusa to succeed him in U.S. Senate". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  28. ^ "Sen. Inouye's letter to Gov. Abercrombie". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  29. ^ "Hawaii governor names Democrat, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, to succeed Inouye in US Senate". The Washington Post. Associated Press. December 26, 2012. 
  30. ^ Slack, Donovan (December 26, 2012). "Schatz to join Obama on AF1 to Washington". Politico. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  31. ^ "The First Debate: Sen. Brian Schatz Versus Rep. Colleen Hanabusa". Honolulu Civil Beat. Jul 2, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  32. ^ Bagley, Katherine (Aug 20, 2014). "Q&A: How a SuperPAC on a Shoestring Is Taking on Congress' Climate Apathy". InsideClimate News (Brooklyn, New York). Retrieved Apr 5, 2015. 
  33. ^ "Primary Election, Statewide, Final Summary" (PDF). State of Hawaii. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  34. ^ "Senator Brian Schatz Wins Closely Fought Democratic Primary in Hawaii". New York Times. Aug 16, 2014. Retrieved Aug 20, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Hawaii General Election 2014" (PDF). Hawaii Office of Elections. Nov 4, 2014. Retrieved Dec 18, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Twitter post". Twitter. May 9, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  37. ^ "H.R. 5949: FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012 (On Passage of the Bill)". December 28, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  38. ^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 113th Congress – 1st Session". Legislation & Records. United States Senate. Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  39. ^ O'Keefe, Ed (10 March 2014). "What the Senate’s all-nighter on climate change is really about". Washington Post. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  40. ^ Miller, Erin (12 October 2014). "U.S. Senate candidates offer diverse choices". West Hawaii Today. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  41. ^ "Off the News". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. July 23, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  42. ^ Rare critic of Tuskegee Study
  43. ^ Schatz stand against racism

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Duke Aiona
Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
Succeeded by
Shan Tsutsui
United States Senate
Preceded by
Daniel Inouye
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Hawaii
Served alongside: Daniel Akaka, Mazie Hirono
Party political offices
Preceded by
Daniel Inouye
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Hawaii
(Class 2)

Most recent
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Mike Lee
Baby of the Senate
Succeeded by
Chris Murphy
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Dean Heller
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Tim Scott