Brian Schatz ContactBack to top
Address: 722 HSOB, DC 20510
Phone: (808) 523-2061
Address: 300 Ala-Moana Boulevard, Honolulu HI 96850
Brian Schatz StaffBack to top
Brian Schatz CommitteesBack to top
Brian Schatz BiographyBack to top
- Elected: Appointed Dec. 2012, term expires 2020, 1st term.
- State: Hawaii
- Born: Oct. 20, 1972, Ann Arbor, MI
- Home: Honolulu
Pomona College, B.A., 1994
- Professional Career:
CEO, Helping Hands Hawaii, 2004-10; Chairman, HI Democratic Party, 2008-10
- Political Career:
HI House, 1998-2006; HI lt. gov. 2010-12
- Ethnicity: White/Caucasian
- Family: Married (Linda Schatz); 2 children
Democrat Brian Schatz, the Senate’s second-youngest member behind Connecticut’s Chris Murphy, was appointed on Dec. 26, 2012 to fill the unexpired term of Democrat Daniel Inouye, who died nine days earlier. He then won reelection to a full term in 2014. An ardent liberal, Schatz had been Hawaii’s lieutenant governor, Democratic Party chair, and a state House member.
Schatz was born in Ann Arbor, Mich., one of two identical-twin sons of a cardiologist who worked at the University of Michigan hospital. (His brother, Steve, runs the Hawaii Department of Education’s Office of Strategic Reform.) When he was 2 years old, his father accepted a job at the University of Hawaii and the family moved to the state. After high school, Schatz went to Pomona College and received a degree in philosophy. He returned to Hawaii after college and worked for a nonprofit organization.
At age 26, Schatz was elected in 1998 to represent urban Honolulu in the 25th District in the state legislature. He rose to chair the Economic Development Committee and was appointed majority whip. When U.S. Rep. Ed Case decided to challenge Democrat Daniel Akaka for the Senate in 2006, Schatz became one of 10 candidates in the Democratic primary for Case’s seat. He lost to Mazie Hirono, who at the time was lieutenant governor and who is now his Senate colleague. Schatz got just 7% of the vote and finishing sixth in the field.
He then turned his attention to Barack Obama, another young politician who grew up in Hawaii and who had graduated from the prestigious Punahou School. Schatz joined other Democrats in 2006 in founding a group urging Obama, then a U.S. senator from Illinois, to run for president. “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,” Schatz told the Associated Press. “He wants to govern the United States by hope.” Schatz ran for and won the state Democratic Party chairmanship in 2008, and served as Obama’s campaign spokesman for Hawaii in the presidential race that year.
Schatz announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor in January 2010 and ran with Neil Abercrombie, who had served 10 terms in the U.S. House before seeking the governorship. The campaign outraised GOP rival, Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, by 2-to-1 and won by 17 percentage points.
As lieutenant governor, Schatz worked on energy and climate issues and publicly backed same-sex civil unions. “He has a quiet belief that wherever he goes, he can make good things happen,” Chuck Freedman, who chaired Schatz’s campaign, told PBS. “Brian felt that he could turn that position into a lot more than it had been before and go way beyond the job description.”
After the November 2012 election, the 88-year-old Sen. Inouye fell ill, and just before he died, he urged Abercrombie to appoint Colleen Hanabusa as his replacement. She is a Democrat who had taken a seat in the House the previous year. But Abercrombie, who had a well-publicized rift with Inouye, said he also listened to others in the state’s political circles and thought it was more important for Hanabusa to accumulate seniority in the House. In announcing his selection, he said Schatz “has demonstrated all of the qualities Hawaii could ask for in a senator: respect for our traditions and a strong sense of values, remarkably strong character and problem-solving capacities, and above all an abiding love for and commitment to the people of our state.” Schatz traveled to Washington on Air Force One with Obama, who had been spending his Christmas vacation in Hawaii.
Schatz’s appointment made him the state’s senior senator by just a few days. He was appointed in late December 2012, and began his service immediately. The state’s other senator, Hirono, was first elected in November 2012 to replace the retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka, but her service did not begin until January 2013, giving Schatz a small head start.
In the Senate, Schatz was tied with New York's Chuck Schumer and Connecticut's Murphy as the Senate's most-liberal member in 2013, according to National Journal rankings. He became especially involved on climate change, joining a group of House and Senate liberals in 2013 on a draft carbon-pricing bill. In March 2014 he also helped organize an all-night "talkathon" to try to draw more attention to the dangers of climate change, and as a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee introduced a number of bills relating to energy efficiency and green technologies. He also worked on bills to give federal civilian workers a raise and to improve street design to reduce traffic accidents.
Schatz also tended to a variety of Hawaii-related issues. On the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, he was involved in creating a new subcommittee on tourism policy, which he chaired. He also introduced a measure to study the creation of more national parks in the state. The Energy Committee in June 2014 passed his bill to increase grant funding for water conservation and drought projects that would make Hawaii projects eligible for the Bureau of Reclamation's WaterSMART grants.
Hanabusa challenged Schatz in the Democratic primary, seeking to depict him as inexperienced. At a July debate, she rebuked his vote against a bill to reauthorize electronic surveillance against terrorists by saying: "You have to start to read the bills to really understand what you're talking about." But Schatz lined up support from the Democratic establishment, including Obama, and left-leaning groups. And he out-raised Hanabusa, collecting $4.9 million to her $2.9 million.
The Aug. 9 primary was held following a tropical storm that damaged parts of Hawaii, preventing two precincts from voting. State election officials said that a make-up election would be held there the following Friday; Hanabusa filed a legal challenge contending those areas were insufficiently recovered to have voters cast ballots, but a judge struck her challenge. Schatz was able to extend his earlier narrow lead and finish ahead by 1,769 votes out of a statewide total of more than 237,000 ballots cast. After that, his election in November was a cakewalk.Show Less
Brian Schatz Votes and BillsBack to top NJ Vote Ratings
National Journal’s rating system is an objective method of analyzing voting. The liberal score means that the lawmaker’s votes were more liberal than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The conservative score means his votes were more conservative than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The composite score is an average of a lawmaker’s six issue-based scores. See all NJ Voting
|Economic||93 (L) : - (C)|
|Social||73 (L) : - (C)|
|Foreign||71 (L) : - (C)|
|Composite||89.5 (L) : 10.5 (C)|
The vote ratings by 10 special interest groups provide insight into a lawmaker’s general ideology and the degree to which he or she agrees with the group’s point of view. Two organizations provide just one combined rating for 2011 and 2012, the two sessions of the 112th Congress. They are the ACLU and the ITIC. About the interest groups.
The key votes show how a member of Congress voted on the major bills of the year. N indicates a "no" vote; Y a "yes" vote. If a member voted "present" or was absent, the bill caption is not shown. For a complete description of the bills included in key votes, see the Almanac's Guide to Usage.
- End fiscal cliff
- Vote: Y
- Year: 2012