Brian Schatz

Brian Schatz
United States Senator
from Hawaii
Assumed office
December 26, 2012
Serving with Mazie Hirono
Preceded by Dan Inouye
11th Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
In office
December 6, 2010  December 26, 2012
Governor Neil Abercrombie
Preceded by Duke Aiona
Succeeded by Shan Tsutsui
Chair of the Hawaii Democratic Party
In office
May 2008  January 2010
Preceded by Jeani Withington
Succeeded by Dante Carpenter
Member of the Hawaii House of Representatives
from the 25th district
In office
November 3, 2002  November 7, 2006
Preceded by Kenneth Hiraki
Succeeded by Della Au Belatti
Member of the Hawaii House of Representatives
from the 24th district
In office
November 3, 1998  November 3, 2002
Preceded by Sam Aiona
Succeeded by Kirk Caldwell
Personal details
Born Brian Emanuel Schatz
(1972-10-20) October 20, 1972
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Linda Kwok Kai Yun
Children 2
Alma mater Pomona College (BA)
Website Senate website

Brian Emanuel Schatz (pronounced /ʃɑːtz/; born October 20, 1972) is an American politician who is the senior United States Senator for Hawaii. Schatz was appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie to replace Senator Daniel Inouye after his death in 2012.

Schatz served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1998 to 2006, where he represented the 25th Legislative District, and was chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii from 2008 to 2010. He also worked as chief executive officer of Helping Hands Hawaii, an Oahu nonprofit social service agency, until he resigned to run for Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii in the 2010 Hawaii gubernatorial election as the running mate of Neil Abercrombie.[1] He served as lieutenant governor until December 26, 2012, when Abercrombie appointed Schatz to serve out Daniel Inouye's U.S. Senate term until the 2014 special election.[2] Upon his swearing-in, Schatz was the youngest U.S. Senator in the 112th Congress. Schatz won the 2014 special election to complete the remainder of Inouye's Senate term.

Early life, education, and early career

Schatz was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the son of Barbara Jane (née Binder) and Irwin Jacob Schatz, a cardiologist and native of Saint Boniface, Manitoba.[3][4]

Schatz's father was notable as the first to publicly identify the injustice of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment in 1964, and remained an influential critic of the study through his life.[5][6]

When Brian was two years old, his family moved to Hawaii,[7] where he graduated from Punahou School.[8][9] Schatz enrolled at Pomona College in Claremont, California; he spent a term studying in Kenya as part of the International Training Program.[10] After graduating with a B.A. in philosophy, he returned to Hawaii, where he taught at Punahou before taking other jobs in the nonprofit sector.

He became active in the community through his involvement in Youth for Environmental Services in the 1980s. He served as CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii and director of the Makiki Community Library and of the Center for a Sustainable Future. In March 2010, Schatz stepped down from Helping Hands to run for lieutenant governor.[11]

Hawaii House of Representatives (1998–2006)


In 1998, Schatz, a Democrat, challenged the incumbent State Representative of the 24th District of the Hawaii House of Representatives, Republican Sam Aiona, and won, 53%–47%.[12] In the 2000 rematch, he was re-elected, 57%–43%.[13]

In 2002, he ran in the newly redrawn 25th House district, and defeated Republican Bill Hols, 69%–31%.[14] In 2004, he defeated Republican Tracy Okubo 64%–36%.[15] The 25th district includes Makiki and Tantalus on Oahu.

Political career (2006–10)

2006 congressional election

Schatz ran for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, vacated by Ed Case, who had decided to run for the U.S. Senate. The Democratic primary featured 10 candidates, seven of whom served in the Hawaii Legislature. Mazie Hirono, the Lieutenant Governor, was the only one who had held statewide office and thus enjoyed the most name recognition. She also raised more money than any other candidate in the race, mostly because of the endorsement of EMILY's List,[16] and gave her campaign a personal loan of $100,000. Still, she won with just 22% of the vote, just 845 votes ahead of State Senator Colleen Hanabusa. State Representative Schatz ranked sixth with 7% of the vote, behind Hirono and four state senators.[17][18]

Support for Obama

Schatz, one of the earliest supporters of Barack Obama for president, founded a group with other Hawaii Democrats in December 2006 to urge Obama to run. Schatz said, "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. He wants to govern the United States by hope."[19] In 2008, Schatz worked as spokesman for Obama's campaign in Hawaii.[20]

State Chairman

In April 2008, he began running for the position of chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii,[21] and won the job at the state convention the following month. During his tenure, the Democrats increased the number of active party members and delivered Obama's best performance of any state in the country. Hawaii native Obama won the state with 73% of the vote, when just 55% of the state voted for Democratic nominee John Kerry in United States presidential election in Hawaii, 2004. Schatz stepped down as party chairman on January 9, 2010.[22]

Lieutenant Governor (2010–12)

2010 election

Schatz, his wife, Linda Kwok Kai Yun Schatz; incoming Hawaii First Lady Nancie Caraway; and Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie on Election Day 2010.

On January 10, 2010, Schatz announced his candidacy for the office of lieutenant governor.[23] Schatz's campaign priorities included the creation of clean-energy jobs, public education, and technological improvements in the public sector. He also declared his support for Hawaii House Bill 444,[24] which would have allowed same-sex civil unions in Hawaii had it not been vetoed by term-limited Republican Governor Linda Lingle.[25] A number of Hawaii labor unions endorsed Schatz for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary election, held statewide on September 18, 2010.[26]


On December 6, 2010, Schatz was inaugurated as Hawaii's 11th lieutenant governor alongside Neil Abercrombie, who had defeated incumbent Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona for the governor's seat. Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice James Duffy administered the oath of office at the Coronation Pavilion on the grounds of ʻIolani Palace.

U.S. Senate (2012–present)


Shortly before Sen. Daniel Inouye died on December 17, 2012,[27] he dictated a letter to Governor Neil Abercrombie, asking that U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa be appointed to finish out his term.[28][29]

Hawaii law on interim appointments to the U.S. Senate requires the governor to choose from three candidates selected by the party of the previous officeholder. On December 26, 2012, the Hawaii Democratic Party nominated Schatz, Hanabusa, and Esther Kia'aina, the deputy director of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. The same day, Abercrombie named Schatz to the job, despite Inouye's request.[30] Later that night, Schatz accompanied President Barack Obama back to Washington, D.C. on Air Force One.[31] On December 27 Schatz was sworn in as a senator by Vice President Joe Biden.

Schatz's appointment to Inouye's seat on December 27, 2012 made him the senior senator from Hawaii (Mazie Hirono, who was elected that November to replace retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka, took office just one week later on January 3, 2013). He is only the sixth person to represent Hawaii in the U.S. Senate, and the first non-Asian American to serve since Oren E. Long.

2014 election

Schatz announced his intention to run for election in the special election to be held in 2014 for a two years term. In April 2013, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa announced she would oppose Schatz in the primary. The core of the Schatz campaign was climate change and renewable energy,[32] and fieldwork from the Super-PAC Climate Hawks Vote has been credited with possibly putting Schatz over the top in a close Democratic primary.[33] Schatz defeated Hanabusa by 1,782 votes (0.75 percent)[34] in a primary delayed in two precincts by Hurricane Iselle.[35]

As expected in heavily Democratic Hawaii, Schatz went on to win the general election with about 70% of the vote.[36]

2016 election

Schatz ran for and won his first full six-year senate term in 2016.[37]

Committee assignments

Political positions

Schatz supports same-sex marriage.[38] He sponsored legislation in 2015 to allow married gay couples to have equal access to the veterans benefits and Social Security they have earned.[39]

In one of his first votes in the U.S. Senate, he voted against renewing the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012.[40] On April 17, 2013, he voted to expand background checks for gun purchases.[41]

In March 2014, Schatz was a lead organizer of an overnight talkathon devoted to discussing climate change. The gathering of over two dozen Senate Democrats took place on the Senate floor. The League of Conservation Voters supported the talkathon and ran campaign ads on Schatz's behalf.[42]

Schatz voted for the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, a bill opposed by many civil liberties groups.[43][44]

To encourage tourism in West Hawaii, Schatz proposed that customs begins in Japan so that planes can arrive in West Hawaii as domestic flights.[45]

Personal life

Schatz is married to Linda Kwok Kai Yun. They have two children. Brian's identical twin brother, Steve, runs the Hawaii Department of Education's Office of Strategic Reform.[46]

Electoral history

Hawai'i House of Representatives District 24 election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Democratic Brian Schatz 3,904 53.1%
Republican Sam Aiona (inc.) 3,446 46.9%
Hawai'i House of Representatives District 24 Democratic Primary election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Democratic Brian Schatz (inc.) 2,771 77.1%
Democratic Casey Choi 824 22.9%
Hawai'i House of Representatives District 24 election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Democratic Brian Schatz (inc.) 3,825 56.7%
Republican Sam Aiona 2,917 43.3%
Hawai'i House of Representatives District 25 election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Democratic Brian Schatz (inc.) 4,896 68.7%
Republican William "Bill" Hols 2,233 31.3%
Hawai'i House of Representatives District 25 election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Democratic Brian Schatz (inc.) 5,367 63.8%
Republican Tracy Okubo 3,048 36.2%
U.S. House of Representatives 2nd District in Hawai'i Democratic Primary election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Democratic Mazie Hirono 24,487 21.8%
Democratic Colleen Hanabusa 23,643 21.1%
Democratic Matt Matsunaga 16,001 14.3%
Democratic Clayton Hee 12,649 11.3%
Democratic Gary Hooser 10,730 9.6%
Democratic Brian Schatz 8,254 7.4%
Democratic Ron Menor 8,030 7.2%
Democratic Nestor Garcia 4,479 4.0%
Democratic Hanalei Aipoalani 2,688 2.4%
Democratic Joe Zuiker 1,174 1.0%
Hawai'i Lieutenant Governor Democratic Primary election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Democratic Brian Schatz 83,476 36.9%
Democratic Robert "Bobby" Bunda 45,986 20.3%
Democratic Norman Sakamoto 44,488 19.6%
Democratic Gary Hooser 22,890 10.1%
Democratic Lyla Berg 20,183 8.9%
Democratic Jon Riki Karamatsu 6,746 3.0%
Democratic Steve Hirakami 2,695 1.2%

Schatz was elected in a separate primary but on a joint ticket in the general election with Neil Abercrombie, who was running for Governor.

U.S. Senate Democratic Primary election in Hawai'i, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Democratic Brian Schatz (inc.) 115,445 49.3%
Democratic Colleen Hanabusa 113,663 48.6%
Democratic Brian Evans 4,842 2.1%
U.S. Senate election in Hawai'i, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Democratic Brian Schatz (inc.) 246,827 69.8%
Republican Cam Cavasso 98,006 27.7%
Libertarian Michael Kokoski 8,941 2.5%


  1. DePledge, Derrick (November 2, 2010). "Abercrombie trumps Aiona to become Hawaii's next governor". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  2. "Schatz appointed to fill Sen. Inouye's seat". KITV. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  3. Irwin Schatz, M.D.
  4. KITV (2012-12-27). "Schatz sworn in as Hawaii's 6th U.S. senator". Retrieved 2015-01-04.
  5. "Irwin Schatz, 83, Rare Critic of Tuskegee Syphilis Study, Is Dead". The New York Times. April 19, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  6. Kery Murakami. "Hawaii Dr. Irwin Schatz' Stand Against Racism Resonates Decades Later - Civil Beat News". Civil Beat News. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  7. Arndt, Danielle (December 27, 2012). "Ann Arbor native Brian Schatz named U.S. senator for Hawaii". Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  8. "Brian Schatz". Honolulu Civil Beat. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  9. "Punahou School: Brian Schatz '90". 2010-12-06. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
  10. "Brian Schatz '94 Appointed to U.S. Senate Representing Hawaii — Pomona College". December 26, 2012. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
  11. Duane Shimogawa. "Schatz lending a hand full-time to politics" Hawaii News Now, May 16, 2010.
  12. "HI State House 24 Race — November 3, 1998". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
  13. "HI State House 24 Race — Nov 07, 2000". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
  14. "HI State House 25 Race — November 5, 2002". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
  15. "HI State House 25 Race — November 2, 2004". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
  16. Carries Giddins. "Emily's list announces endorsement of Mazie Hirono for Hawaii's 2nd congressional District", "Essential Elements.". Retrieved June 14, 2006.
  17. "HI District 2 – D Primary Race". Our Campaigns. September 23, 2006. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
  18. Rachel Kapochunas. "Akaka Survives Challenge from Case in Hawaii Democratic Primary Archived October 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.", cqpolitics. Retrieved September 24, 2006.
  19. "Hawaii group launches Obama for president effort". December 14, 2006. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  20. Who Is Brian Schatz, the New U.S. Senator From Hawaii?,, Dec. 27, 2012.
  21. "Brian Schatz running for chair of Hawaii Democratic Party". KPUA Hawaii News. April 14, 2008. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  22. "Schatz stepping down as Hawaii Democratic Party chair". Hawaii News Now. December 4, 2009. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  23. Brian Schatz Enters Race for Lieutenant Governor Archived June 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., KHON2, January 1, 2010
  24. LG style Q and A with Brian Schatz by Rangar Carlson, Honolulu Weekly, June 30, 2010
  25. Lingle vetoes civil unions bill, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, July 6, 2010.
  26. 2010 Elections website of Hawaii Office of Elections. Retrieved July 20, 2010
  27. McFadden, Robert D. (17 December 2012). "Daniel Inouye, Hawaii's Quiet Voice of Conscience in Senate, Dies at 88". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  28. DePledge, Derrick (17 December 2012). "Inouye wanted Hanabusa to succeed him in U.S. Senate". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  29. "Sen. Inouye's letter to Gov. Abercrombie". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  30. "Hawaii governor names Democrat, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, to succeed Inouye in US Senate". The Washington Post. Associated Press. December 26, 2012.
  31. Slack, Donovan (December 26, 2012). "Schatz to join Obama on AF1 to Washington". Politico. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  32. "The First Debate: Sen. Brian Schatz Versus Rep. Colleen Hanabusa". Honolulu Civil Beat. Jul 2, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  33. Bagley, Katherine (Aug 20, 2014). "Q&A: How a SuperPAC on a Shoestring Is Taking on Congress' Climate Apathy". InsideClimate News. Brooklyn, New York. Retrieved Apr 5, 2015.
  34. "Primary Election, Statewide, Final Summary" (PDF). State of Hawaii. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  35. "Senator Brian Schatz Wins Closely Fought Democratic Primary in Hawaii". New York Times. Aug 16, 2014. Retrieved Aug 20, 2014.
  36. "Hawaii General Election 2014" (PDF). Hawaii Office of Elections. Nov 4, 2014. Retrieved Dec 18, 2014.
  37. Prichard, James (November 8, 2016). "Schatz, Hanabusa, Gabbard handily win their congressional races - Pacific Business News". Pacific Business News.
  38. "Twitter post". Twitter. May 9, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  39. Dennis, Steven T. (March 27, 2015). "Same-Sex Marriage Benefits Endorsed on Senate Floor (Updated)". Roll Call.
  40. "H.R. 5949: FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012 (On Passage of the Bill)". December 28, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  41. "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 113th Congress – 1st Session". Legislation & Records. United States Senate. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
  42. O'Keefe, Ed (March 10, 2014). "What the Senate's all-nighter on climate change is really about". Washington Post. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
  43. "U.S. Senate: Roll Call Vote". January 27, 2015. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  44. "Civil liberties groups mobilize against CISA — Will the Chrysler hack make automakers more open to security researchers?". POLITICO. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  45. Miller, Erin (October 12, 2014). "U.S. Senate candidates offer diverse choices". West Hawaii Today. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  46. "Off the News". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. July 23, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Brian Schatz.
Political offices
Preceded by
Duke Aiona
Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
Succeeded by
Shan Tsutsui
United States Senate
Preceded by
Dan Inouye
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Hawaii
Served alongside: Daniel Akaka, Mazie Hirono
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Mike Lee
Baby of the Senate
Succeeded by
Chris Murphy
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dan Inouye
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Hawaii
(Class 3)

2014, 2016
Most recent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Dean Heller
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Tim Scott
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