Inouye family backs Hanabusa fundraising drive to help oust Schatz

Relations are still bitter between Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz (D) and the family of the legendary senator he replaced, Daniel Inouye (D).

Inouye’s widow, Irene Hirano Inouye, wants Schatz out of the seat occupied for nearly 50 years by her late husband, throwing her support behind a fundraising drive for Schatz’s primary election opponent, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii.).

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“As Senator, Dan worked hard to create a better future for Hawaii. He did so with dignity, humility, and most importantly, a deep love and respect for Hawaii's people and values,” she wrote in a fundraising email Tuesday. 

“I am supporting Colleen for Senate because she displays those same qualities and understands how to deliver for Hawaii,” she added.

She argued that the Senate, which is 80 percent male, needs more women in its ranks.

“Colleen's candidacy presents the best opportunity to elect another well-qualified woman to represent us all,” Inouye wrote.

Relations between Schatz and Inouye’s camp have been tense ever since Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) defied Inouye’s dying wish that Hanabusa should be appointed his successor.

Abercrombie, a former member of the House, and Inouye were not close friends when they served together in Congress.

Inouye split with Abercrombie in 2010 when he urged Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann to run against Abercrombie in the gubernatorial primary.

Schatz was Abercrombie’s running mate in that race and later served under him as lieutenant governor.

Jennifer Sabas, Inouye's former chief of staff, issued a statement at the time expressing disappointment with Schatz’s appointment.

"Sen. Inouye conveyed his final wish to Gov. Abercrombie. While we are very disappointed that it was not honored, it was the governor's decision to make. We wish Brian Schatz the best of luck," it stated.