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. Before becoming a senator, Schatz was elected Hawaii’s lieutenant governor in 2010.
Schatz was appointed on Dec. 26, 2012, by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to replace 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. But Schatz defeated Hanabusa by just 1,782 votes in the primary election, which was delayed for weeks as the state allowed voters in the Big Island’s Puna District to cast belated ballots after 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 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 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 District: Makiki, MCully 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.
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.”
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.
Schatz is married to Linda Schatz. They have two children.