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

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D)

Hawaii

N/A

hirono.senate.gov

Biography

Elected: 2012, term expires 2018, 1st term.

Born: November 3, 1947, Fukushima, Japan

Home: Honolulu, HI

Education: University of Hawaii, B.A. 1970; Georgetown University, J.D. 1978

Professional Career: Deputy Hawaii attorney general, 1978-80; practicing lawyer, 1984-88

Ethnicity: Asian/Pacific American

Religion: Buddhism

Family: Married (Leighton Kim Oshima) , 1 stepchild

Democrat Mazie Hirono turned back a strong challenge from former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle to keep the Senate seat in her party’s hands in 2012. She succeeded Sen. Daniel Akaka, who retired after serving three full terms.

As in her other campaigns, Hirono made much of her early-life hardships, which she says inform her liberal politics. She was born in Fukushima, Japan, and immigrated to Hawaii just before her eighth birthday with her mother, who fled an abusive husband with alcohol and gambling problems. As a child, she shared a single bed in a boardinghouse room with her mother and older brother, and at age 10 went to work to support the family. She mastered English in public schools and became a naturalized citizen in 1959, the year that Hawaii became a state.

After graduating from the University of Hawaii, Hirono got involved in politics by working on state House campaigns. She then earned a law degree from Georgetown University and worked in the Hawaii attorney general’s office. She ran for the state House in 1980 and won, holding the seat for 14 years. In 1994, she was elected to the first of two terms as lieutenant governor. She ran against Lingle for governor in 2002, but her campaign was poorly organized and was undermined by Democratic corruption scandals and other problems. She lost, 52%-47%.

Hirono formed a political action committee to assist state-level Democratic women supporting abortion rights. She got her chance to become an elected official again in 2006, when Rep. Ed Case challenged Akaka in the Democratic primary. She ran for Case’s House seat, and emerged atop a 10-candidate Democratic primary field. She then easily beat GOP state Sen. Bob Hogue in a district that had never elected a Republican, becoming the first Asian immigrant woman to serve in Congress.

She had a solidly liberal voting record and a relatively low profile in the House. Her enthusiastic support of the Democratic agenda led the Hawaii Tribune-Herald to say, in endorsing her in 2008, “We wish she’d be a little more independent and less partisan.” Like the late Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, she was a staunch defender of earmarking to benefit the state, and in fiscal 2010, she ranked third among all House members in accumulating special-request spending items, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. She has said that each of the projects she requests has “an intrinsic value” and can often yield benefits far beyond their local scope.

When Akaka announced his retirement, Hirono was considered the early Democratic favorite. But Republicans got their wish when Lingle, after months of deliberation, agreed to run. She initially made the race competitive, campaigning on her successful record in the statehouse as a moderate and stressing that she wouldn’t be beholden to Senate GOP leaders. She ran an ad criticizing Hirono for not getting any of her own bills signed into law. But Lingle said she would vote for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, which Hawaii political analysts said didn’t play well in Obama’s home state.

Hirono argued that Lingle would vote with Republicans and that a vote for Lingle potentially could put the GOP in the majority, which she claimed would lead to the repeal of Obama’s health care reform law, provide more tax cuts for the wealthy, and threaten Social Security and Medicare. Bringing the argument closer to home, she also asserted that a Republican majority would threaten the influence of Inouye, the Appropriations Committee’s top Democrat and a beloved icon to Hawaiians. Hirono opened a double-digit lead by early October and went on to win 63% to 37%.

She is Hawaii’s junior senator. Senior Sen. Inouye died in office shortly after the November election, on December 17, 2012. Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed his lieutenant governor, Brian Schatz, as Inouye’s immediate replacement. Schatz started his service in the Senate in late December, and so surpassed Hirono in seniority by a few days because her Senate term did not begin until early January 2013, when the new Congress was sworn in.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-6361

(202) 224-2126

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 330
Washington, DC 20510-1104

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-6361

(202) 224-2126

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 330
Washington, DC 20510-1104

DISTRICT OFFICE

(808) 522-8970

(808) 538-0233

Prince Kuhio Federal Building Suite 3106
Honolulu, HI 96850-5104

DISTRICT OFFICE

(808) 522-8970

(808) 538-0233

Prince Kuhio Federal Building Suite 3106
Honolulu, HI 96850-5104

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Arts

Jonathan Elkin
Legislative Assistant

Banking

Jeremy Horan
Legislative Director

Budget

Jeremy Horan
Legislative Director

Campaign

Adam Tanga
Legislative Assistant

Commerce

Jeremy Horan
Legislative Director

Consumers

Jeremy Horan
Legislative Director

Crime

Adam Tanga
Legislative Assistant

Education

Jonathan Elkin
Legislative Assistant

Family

Jonathan Elkin
Legislative Assistant

Foreign

Adam Tanga
Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Adam Tanga
Legislative Assistant

Health

Swarna Vallurupalli
Health and Tax Counsel

Homeland Security

Adam Tanga
Legislative Assistant

Housing

Jeremy Horan
Legislative Director

Immigration

Adam Tanga
Legislative Assistant

Intelligence

Nick Ikeda
Military Legislative Assistant

Adam Tanga
Legislative Assistant

Internet

Jeremy Horan
Legislative Director

Labor

Jonathan Elkin
Legislative Assistant

Medicare

Swarna Vallurupalli
Health and Tax Counsel

Jonathan Elkin
Legislative Assistant

Military

Nick Ikeda
Military Legislative Assistant

Adam Tanga
Legislative Assistant

Lauren Montez-Hernandez
Military Liaison; Community Liaison

Public Works

Jeremy Horan
Legislative Director

Recreation

Adam Tanga
Legislative Assistant

Seniors

Chris Cryan
Legislative Correspondent

Jonathan Elkin
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Jonathan Elkin
Legislative Assistant

Tax

Jeremy Horan
Legislative Director

Swarna Vallurupalli
Health and Tax Counsel

Technology

Jonathan Elkin
Legislative Assistant

Telecommunications

Jeremy Horan
Legislative Director

Trade

Jeremy Horan
Legislative Director

Transportation

Jeremy Horan
Legislative Director

Veterans

Adam Tanga
Legislative Assistant

Lauren Montez-Hernandez
Military Liaison; Community Liaison

Welfare

Jonathan Elkin
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Mazie Hirono
Votes: 269,489
Percent: 62.6%
Linda Lingle
Votes: 160,994
Percent: 37.4%
2012 PRIMARY
Mazie Hirono
Votes: 134,745
Percent: 57.67%
Ed Case
Votes: 95,553
Percent: 40.9%
Prior Winning Percentages
House: 2010 (72%), 2008 (76%), 2006 (61%)

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