Former Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii dies at 93

Former Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii dies at 93
© Greg Nash

Former Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), who served in Congress for more than three decades, died on Thursday at the age of 93, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported

Over the course of a 36-year career Washington, D.C., Akaka garnered a reputation as an advocate for Native Hawaiians and veterans. 

First elected to the House in 1976, Akaka became the first Native Hawaiian to serve in the Senate when he was appointed to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Spark Matsunaga (D) in 1990. 

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He announced in 2011 that he would not seek reelection in 2012. 

"I have always strived to serve the people with much love and aloha, never forgetting my humble beginnings, and it is my hope that they, too, will continue this tradition," Akaka said in a 2011 statement announcing his retirement.

The piece of legislation most closely associated with the Hawaii Democrat, the so-called Akaka bill, which sought to grant self-governance to Native Hawaiians, made it through the House during his time as a representative. But the measure never gained enough support in the Senate, despite a 12-year effort by Akaka.

“As the first Native Hawaiian to serve in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Daniel Akaka was a fierce advocate for the people of Hawaii,” the Democratic National Committee said in a statement.

“From securing federal money to improve social programs for Native Hawaiians to being a leading voice in persuading the United States to formally apologize for its overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Sen. Akaka always put his constituents first," the DNC statement continued. "He spent his entire life fighting for justice and opportunity for all Americans, and there is no doubt we will miss his ‘aloha’ spirit. Our prayers are with Sen. Akaka’s wife, Mary, his five children, and his entire family at this difficult time.”

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardDNC punts on measure to reduce role of corporate PAC money NBC, CNN to host first two Democratic presidential primary debates Exclusive: Biden almost certain to enter 2020 race MORE (D-Hawaii), who now represents the district held by Akaka for 13 years, said Friday that he "truly embodied the aloha spirit," and that she was "so grateful to have known" him.

Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal GOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats Trump defends using DOD funds on border wall: 'Some of the generals think that this is more important' MORE (D-Hawaii) also mourned Akaka's death, calling him a "pure heart, a determined warrior for native Hawaiians, and a true public servant."

 Rep. Colleen HanabusaColleen Wakako HanabusaHawaii New Members 2019 Ige wins second term as Hawaii governor The Hill's Morning Report — Trump heads to New York to shore-up GOP districts MORE (D-Hawaii) declared Akaka "one of Hawaii's greatest statesmen."

Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoFemale Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Trump tweets video mocking Dems not cheering during State of the Union New battle lines in war over Trump’s judicial picks MORE (D-Hawaii), who succeeded Akaka in the Senate, paid tribute to the longtime lawmaker, as well, calling him "an example for us all."

Updated at 4:37 p.m.