Brian Schatz is one of two Democratic U.S. senators representing Hawaii. He was selected to fill the seat that belonged to the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and elected in his own right in 2014 and re-elected in 2016.
Before becoming a senator, Schatz was elected Hawaii’s lieutenant governor in 2010.
He previously served in the Hawaii House of Representatives and is a former chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.
Schatz is married to Linda Schatz. They have two children.
Schatz was born on Oct. 20, 1972, in Michigan and moved to Hawaii when he was 2 years old. Schatz was raised in Hawaii and attended Punahou School. After high school, Schatz went to Pomona College in California and received a degree in philosophy.
He returned to Hawaii after college and worked for a nonprofit organization. In 1998, Schatz was elected to represent Hawaii’s 25th Legislative District: Makiki, McCully and Tantalus.
During his time in the House, Schatz chaired the Economic Development Committee and was appointed majority whip.
In 2006, Schatz ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary to serve Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. Leaving the House, Schatz served as the chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii from May 2008 to 2010.
Schatz also chaired the Hawaii Draft Obama Campaign and was instrumental for the president’s successful 2008 campaign in Hawaii.
The Path To The U.S. Senate
Schatz was elected as Hawaii lieutenant governor in 2010, running with Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
In his two years as Abercrombie’s second-in-command, Schatz led efforts to secure public and private funding for state initiatives and became the administration’s point man on energy issues, dubbed Hawaii’s “ambassador of energy.”
Schatz was appointed on Dec. 26, 2012, by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to replace the late Sen. Dan Inouye in the U.S. Senate. Abercrombie chose Schatz over Inouye’s hand-picked successor, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, saying that the appointment of the then-40-year-old lieutenant governor was “in the best interest of the state of Hawaii and the nation.”
Hanabusa challenged Schatz for the seat in the 2014 primary election. But Schatz defeated Hanabusa by just 1,782 votes, after a delayed vote count as the state allowed voters in the Big Island’s Puna District to cast belated ballots because their polling places had been closed on Election Day due to a tropical storm.
Schatz went on to handily defeat Republican Cam Cavasso in the Nov. 4, 2014, general election.
Schatz was re-elected in a landslide in 2016 to serve a full six-year term. His profile on the national scene is rising, particularly concerning the issues of renewable energy, global warming and internet neutrality.
Now Hawaii’s senior senator, having been sworn in just days before fellow Democrat Mazie Hirono, Schatz has focused on global warming, renewable energy, college affordability, entitlement programs, veterans issues and Native Hawaiians.
He is a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and also serves on the committees for Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Indian Affairs.
He also serves in a leadership position as Chief Deputy Whip.