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 byDaniel Inouye
11th Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
In office
December 6, 2010 – December 26, 2012
GovernorNeil Abercrombie
Preceded byDuke Aiona
Succeeded byShan Tsutsui
Chair of the Hawaii Democratic Party
In office
May 2008 – January 2010
Preceded byJeani Withington
Succeeded byDante Carpenter
Member of the Hawaii House of Representatives
from the 25th district
In office
November 3, 2002 – November 7, 2006
Preceded byKenneth Hiraki
Succeeded byDella Au Belatti
Member of the Hawaii House of Representatives
from the 24th district
In office
November 3, 1998 – November 3, 2002
Preceded bySam Aiona
Succeeded byKirk Caldwell
Personal details
Born
Brian Emanuel Schatz

(1972-10-20) October 20, 1972 (age 46)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Linda Kwok Kai Yun
Children2
EducationPomona College (BA)
Signature
WebsiteSenate website

Brian Emanuel Schatz (/ʃɑːts/; born October 20, 1972) is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Hawaii, a seat he has held since 2012. Schatz was appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie to replace Senator Daniel Inouye after his death.

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 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 the rest of Daniel Inouye's U.S. Senate term after his death.[2] Upon his swearing-in, Schatz was the youngest U.S. Senator in the 112th Congress. Schatz won the 2014 special election to complete the remainder of Inouye's Senate term, and was reelected in 2016 for a full six-year term, defeating Republican John Carroll.

Early life[edit]

Brian Schatz was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, along with an identical twin brother, Steve. He is the son of Barbara Jane (née Binder) and Irwin Jacob Schatz, a cardiologist and native of Saint Boniface, Manitoba.[3][4]

Schatz is Jewish. JStreetPAC, which supported him, called him a "strong voice for the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement," and a supporter of the Iran nuclear agreement.[5][6]

Schatz's father was the first to complain about the ethics of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, in a 1965 letter. The letter was ignored until the problem finally came to public attention in 1972. Irwin Schatz wrote that he was "astounded" that "physicians allow patients with potentially fatal disease to remain untreated when effective therapy is available." Brian Schatz said that his father didn't talk about the letter, but did influence him to pursue the public good.[7][8]

When Schatz and his brother were two years old the family moved to Hawaii[9] where Schatz later graduated from Punahou School.[10][11] Schatz enrolled at Pomona College in Claremont, California; he spent a term studying in Kenya as part of the International Training Program.[12] As a US Senator, Schatz is one of Pomona’s most high-profile alumni and was invited by Pomona to be the commencement speaker for the college’s Class of 2017.[13] After graduating in 1994 with a B.A. in philosophy, he returned to Hawaii, where he taught at Punahou before taking other jobs in the nonprofit sector. Schatz for a short while was a member of the Green Party in his early life.[14]

Early career[edit]

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.[15]

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

Elections[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%.[16] In the 2000 rematch he was reelected, 57%–43%.[17]

In 2002 he ran in the newly redrawn 25th House district, and defeated Republican Bill Hols, 69%–31%.[18] In 2004 he defeated Republican Tracy Okubo, 64%–36%.[19] The 25th district includes Makiki and Tantalus on Oahu.

Subsequent political career (2006–10)[edit]

2006 congressional election[edit]

Schatz ran for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, vacated by Ed Case, who had decided to run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Daniel Akaka. 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,[20] 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. Schatz ranked sixth with 7% of the vote, behind Hirono and four state senators.[21][22]

Support for Obama[edit]

One of the earliest supporters of Barack Obama for president, Schatz 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."[23] In 2008 Schatz worked as spokesman for Obama's campaign in Hawaii.[24]

State Chairman[edit]

In April 2008 Schatz began running for the position of chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii,[25] 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; just 55% of the state voted for Democratic nominee John Kerry in 2004. Schatz stepped down as party chairman on January 9, 2010.[26]

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 lieutenant governor of Hawaii.[27] Schatz's campaign priorities included the creation of clean-energy jobs, public education, and technological improvements in the public sector. He also declared his support for Hawaii House Bill 444,[28] which would have allowed same-sex civil unions in Hawaii had it not been vetoed by term-limited Republican Governor Linda Lingle.[29] A number of Hawaii labor unions endorsed Schatz for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary election, held statewide on September 18, 2010.[30] Schatz won the nomination with 34.8% of the vote, and thus became Abercrombie's running mate in the November general election.

Tenure[edit]

On December 6, 2010, Schatz was inaugurated as Hawaii's 11th lieutenant governor alongside Abercrombie, who had defeated Republican incumbent Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona in the gubernatorial election. 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]

Appointment[edit]

Shortly before Senator Daniel Inouye died on December 17, 2012,[31] he dictated a letter to Governor Neil Abercrombie asking that U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa be appointed to finish out his term.[32][33]

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 appointed Schatz, despite Inouye's request.[34] Later that night, Schatz accompanied President Barack Obama back to Washington, D.C. on Air Force One.[35] On December 27 Schatz was sworn in as a senator by Vice President Joe Biden.

Schatz's appointment to Inouye's seat on December 27, 2012, made him the senior senator from Hawaii (Mazie Hirono, who had been elected that November to replace retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka, took office one week later on January 3, 2013). He is only 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 for a two years term. In April 2013 Hanabusa announced she would challenge Schatz in the primary. The core of the Schatz campaign was climate change and renewable energy.[36] Schatz defeated Hanabusa by 1,782 votes (0.75%)[37] in a primary delayed in two precincts by Hurricane Iselle.[38]

As expected in heavily Democratic Hawaii, Schatz went on to win the general election, defeating Republican Campbell Cavasso with about 70% of the vote.[39]

2016 election[edit]

In 2016, Schatz ran for and easily won his first full six-year senate term against only nominal opposition.[40]

According to New York magazine, Schatz had a low-profile but highly influential effect on the Democratic primary for the 2020 presidential election by pushing fellow Democrats to commit to progressive positions on issues such as healthcare, climate, college affordability and Social Security.[41]

Committee assignments (116th Congress)[edit]

Leadership positions[edit]

  • Chief Deputy Whip[42][43]
  • Co-chair, Senate Climate Change Task Force[44]
  • Chair, Senate Democratic Special Committee on the Climate Crisis[45]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Political positions[edit]

According to New York magazine, Schatz is a progressive but not a "Sanders-style bomb-thrower."[41] He was characterized as a low-profile but a highly influential Senator in pushing fellow Democrats to adopt progressive policy positions.[41]

Gun law[edit]

As of 2010, the National Rifle Association had given Schatz a "C" rating for his mixed voting record regarding gun law.[48]

He participated in the Chris Murphy gun control filibuster in 2016.[49] Schatz expressed disappointment, along with fellow Hawaii senator Mazie Hirono, when both the Democrat proposed Feinstein Amendment (making the sale of firearms to individuals on the terrorist watchlist illegal) and the Republican supported background check changes and gun sale alert system did not pass the Senate. He stated:[50]

More than 90% of Americans demand we take action on gun violence, but again Senate Republicans refuse to act. It’s unacceptable. Right now, known terrorists are banned from getting on an airplane, but they are still allowed to buy military-style weapons. It is absolutely insane. After one of the most horrific mass shootings in our history, we saw people across the country courageously stand up against gun violence and hatred. When will Republicans in Congress finally do the same?

In response to the 2017 Las Vegas shooting Schatz stated, "We can do more than lower the flag to half-mast. We can take a stand against gun violence by passing common-sense gun safety laws."[51]

Social[edit]

Schatz supports same-sex marriage.[52] He sponsored legislation in 2015 to allow married gay couples to have equal access to the veterans benefits and Social Security they have earned.[53]

Privacy rights[edit]

In one of his first votes in the U.S. Senate, he voted against renewing the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012.[54] On April 17, 2013, he voted to expand background checks for gun purchases.[55]

Schatz voted for the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, a bill opposed by many civil liberties groups.[56][57]

Environment[edit]

In March 2014, Schatz was a lead organizer of an overnight talkathon devoted to discussing climate change. The gathering of over two dozen Senate Democrats took place on the Senate floor. The League of Conservation Voters supported the talkathon and ran campaign ads on Schatz's behalf.[58] He has received a perfect score from the League of Conservation Voters.[59]

Economy[edit]

To encourage tourism in West Hawaii, Schatz proposed that customs begin in Japan so that planes can arrive in West Hawaii as domestic flights.[60]

Foreign policy[edit]

Schatz criticized China's island-building activities, saying that "China’s outsized claim to the entire South China Sea has no basis in international law."[61]

In October 2017, Schatz condemned the genocide of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar and called for a stronger response to the crisis.[62]

Schatz spearheaded a nonbinding resolution in July 2018 "warning President Trump not to let the Russian government question diplomats and other officials". The resolution states the United States "should refuse to make available any current or former diplomat, civil servant, political appointee, law enforcement official or member of the Armed Forces of the United States for questioning by the government of Vladimir Putin". It passed 98-0.[63]

Health care[edit]

Schatz supports Sen. Bernie Sanders' single-payer proposal, but also introduced his own proposal which would allow states to expand Medicaid into a universal system.[64][65]

Housing[edit]

In April 2019, Schatz was one of forty-one senators to sign a bipartisan letter to the housing subcommittee praising the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 4 Capacity Building program as authorizing "HUD to partner with national nonprofit community development organizations to provide education, training, and financial support to local community development corporations (CDCs) across the country" and expressing disappointment that President Trump's budget "has slated this program for elimination after decades of successful economic and community development." The senators wrote of their hope that the subcommittee would support continued funding for Section 4 in Fiscal Year 2020.[66]

Personal life[edit]

Schatz is married to Linda Kwok Kai Yun. They have two children. Brian's identical twin brother, Steve, runs the Hawaii Department of Education's Office of Strategic Reform.[67]

Electoral history[edit]

Democratic primary results[68]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brian Schatz 83,431 34.8
Democratic Robert Bunda 45,973 19.2
Democratic Norman Sakamoto 44,462 18.5
Democratic Gary Hooser 22,878 9.5
Democratic Lyla Berg 20,161 8.4
Democratic Jon Riki Karamatsu 6,746 2.8
Democratic Steve Hirakami 2,695 1.1
Total votes 226,346 100
Hawaii gubernatorial election, 2010[69]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Neil Abercrombie / Brian Schatz 222,724 57.8%
Republican Duke Aiona / Lynn Finnegan 157,311 40.8%
Free Energy Party Daniel Cunningham / Deborah Spence 1,265 .3%
Non-partisan Tom Pollard / Leonard Kama 1,263 .3%
Turnout 380,035 55.7%
Democratic gain from Republican
Democratic primary results[70]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brian Schatz (incumbent) 115,445 48.5%
Democratic Colleen Hanabusa 113,663 47.7%
Democratic Brian Evans 4,842 2.0%
Democratic Blank vote 3,842 1.6%
Democratic Over vote 150 0.2%
Total votes 237,942 100.0%
United States Senate special election in Hawaii, 2014[71]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Brian Schatz (incumbent) 246,827 69.78% -5.03%
Republican Campbell Cavasso 98,006 27.70% +6.13%
Libertarian Michael Kokoski 8,941 2.52% +1.72%
Total votes 353,774 100.0% N/A
Democratic hold
U.S. Senate Election Hawaii 2016 - Democratic primary election[72][73][74]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Brian Schatz (Incumbent) 162,891 86.17%
Democratic Makani Christensen 11,898 6.29%
Democratic Miles Shiratori 8,620 4.56%
Democratic Arturo Reyes 3,819 2.02%
Democratic Tutz Honeychurch 1,815 0.96%
Total votes 189,043 100.00%
U.S. Senate Election Hawaii 2016[75]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Brian Schatz (Incumbent) 306,604 70.1% N/A
Republican John Carroll 92,653 21.2% N/A
Constitution Joy Allison 9,103 2.1% N/A
Libertarian Michael Kokowski 6,809 1.6% N/A
Independent John Giuffre 1,393 0.3%
Blank votes 20,763 4.7%
Over votes 339 0.0%
Majority 213,951 48.88%
Total votes 437,664 100.0%
Democratic hold Swing

References[edit]

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  4. ^ KITV (December 27, 2012). "Schatz sworn in as Hawaii's 6th U.S. senator". kitv.com. Archived from the original on November 5, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  5. ^ JStreetPac
  6. ^ "Hawaii's Jewish lieutenant governor chosen for US Senate seat". The Times of Israel. December 27, 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  7. ^ "Irwin Schatz, 83, Rare Critic of Tuskegee Syphilis Study, Is Dead". The New York Times. April 19, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  8. ^ Kery Murakami. "Hawaii Dr. Irwin Schatz' Stand Against Racism Resonates Decades Later - Civil Beat News". Civil Beat News. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
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  27. ^ Brian Schatz Enters Race for Lieutenant Governor Archived June 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, KHON2, January 1, 2010
  28. ^ LG style Q and A with Brian Schatz by Rangar Carlson, Honolulu Weekly, June 30, 2010
  29. ^ Lingle vetoes civil unions bill, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, July 6, 2010.
  30. ^ 2010 Elections website of Hawaii Office of Elections. Retrieved July 20, 2010,
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  62. ^ "Sen. Todd Young urges action to end Muslim genocide in Myanmar". IndyStar. October 22, 2017.
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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Duke Aiona
Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
2010–2012
Succeeded by
Shan Tsutsui
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Dan Inouye
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Hawaii
2012–present
Served alongside: Daniel Akaka, Mazie Hirono
Incumbent
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Mike Lee
Baby of the Senate
2012–2013
Succeeded by
Chris Murphy
Party political offices
Preceded by
Malama Solomon
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
2010
Succeeded by
Shan Tsutsui
Preceded by
Dan Inouye
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Hawaii
(Class 3)

2014, 2016
Most recent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Lee
United States Senators by seniority
56th
Succeeded by
Tim Scott