Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Sen. Brian Schatz (D)

Hawaii

N/A

schatz.senate.gov

Biography

Elected: Appointed Dec. 2012, term expires 2020, 1st term.

Born: October 20, 1972, Ann Arbor, MI

Home: Honolulu, HI

Education: Pomona College, B.A., 1994

Professional Career: CEO, Helping Hands Hawaii, 2004-10; Chairman, HI Democratic Party, 2008-10

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Jewish

Family: Married (Linda Kwok Kai Yun) , 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.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-3934

(808) 523-2065

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 722
Washington, DC 20510-1105

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-3934

(202) 228-1153

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 722
Washington, DC 20510-1105

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-3934

(808) 523-2065

300 Ala-Moana Boulevard Room 7-212
Honolulu, HI 96850

DISTRICT OFFICE

(808) 523-2061

(808) 523-2065

300 Ala-Moana Boulevard Room 7-212
Honolulu, HI 96850

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(202) 224-3934

(808) 523-2065

PO Box 3828
Honolulu, HI 96812

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 3828
Honolulu, HI 96812

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Aimee Grace
Legislative Assistant

Aerospace

Nicole Casart
Legislative Correspondent

Agriculture

James Chang
Legislative Assistant

Animal Rights

James Chang
Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Kate Howard
Appropriations Advisor

Arts

Melika Carroll
Policy Advisor

Nicole Casart
Legislative Correspondent

Banking

Mika Morse
Legislative Counsel

Jackie Ching
Legislative Correspondent

Budget

Kate Howard
Appropriations Advisor

Jackie Ching
Legislative Correspondent

Campaign

Lenna Aoki
General Counsel

Census

Jackie Ching
Legislative Correspondent

Commerce

Nicole Casart
Legislative Correspondent

Consumers

Mika Morse
Legislative Counsel

Disaster

Will Rogers
Military Legislative Assistant

Education

Melika Carroll
Policy Advisor

Mika Morse
Legislative Counsel

Nicole Casart
Legislative Correspondent

Jackie Ching
Legislative Correspondent

Energy

Will Rogers
Military Legislative Assistant

Michael Obeiter
Legislative Assistant

Environment

Will Rogers
Military Legislative Assistant

Michael Obeiter
Legislative Assistant

Jade Silver
Legislative Correspondent

Family

Aimee Grace
Legislative Assistant

Finance

Lenna Aoki
General Counsel

Foreign

Kathryn Olson
Legislative Correspondent

Gun Issues

Mika Morse
Legislative Counsel

Nicole Casart
Legislative Correspondent

Trelaine Ito
Staff Assistant

Health

Aimee Grace
Legislative Assistant

Housing

Kate Howard
Appropriations Advisor

Mika Morse
Legislative Counsel

Trelaine Ito
Staff Assistant

Human Rights

Mika Morse
Legislative Counsel

Trelaine Ito
Staff Assistant

Immigration

Mika Morse
Legislative Counsel

Insurance

Mika Morse
Legislative Counsel

Internet

Melika Carroll
Policy Advisor

Judiciary

Mika Morse
Legislative Counsel

Nicole Casart
Legislative Correspondent

Jade Silver
Legislative Correspondent

Trelaine Ito
Staff Assistant

Labor

Lenna Aoki
General Counsel

Land Use

Will Rogers
Military Legislative Assistant

Military

Will Rogers
Military Legislative Assistant

Scott Richards
Marine Corps Fellow

Kathryn Olson
Legislative Correspondent

Minorities

Lenna Aoki
General Counsel

Native Americans

Lenna Aoki
General Counsel

Nicole Casart
Legislative Correspondent

Public Works

Trelaine Ito
Staff Assistant

Religion

Trelaine Ito
Staff Assistant

Rules

Lenna Aoki
General Counsel

Jackie Ching
Legislative Correspondent

Science

Nicole Casart
Legislative Correspondent

Seniors

Aimee Grace
Legislative Assistant

Small Business

Mika Morse
Legislative Counsel

Social Security

Lenna Aoki
General Counsel

Tax

Lenna Aoki
General Counsel

Mika Morse
Legislative Counsel

Telecommunications

Melika Carroll
Policy Advisor

Trade

Mika Morse
Legislative Counsel

Kathryn Olson
Legislative Correspondent

Transportation

Kate Howard
Appropriations Advisor

Trelaine Ito
Staff Assistant

Veterans

Scott Richards
Marine Corps Fellow

Kathryn Olson
Legislative Correspondent

Welfare

Lenna Aoki
General Counsel

Women

Aimee Grace
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2014 GENERAL
Brian Schatz
Votes: 246,720
Percent: 69.77%
Cam Cavasso
Votes: 97,972
Percent: 27.7%

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