Obama endorses Brian Schatz in Hawaii Senate primary

March 31, 2014

Brian Schatz shown Dec. 26. 2012, after Gov. Neil Abercrombie, right, announced he was appointing Schatz to fill the seat vacated by the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye. (Audrey McAvoy/AP)

President Obama waded into an intense Democratic primary in the state where he grew up by endorsing Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on Monday.

"I have worked with Senator Schatz on the issues that matter to Hawaii," Obama said in a statement distributed by the Schatz campaign. "Brian's deep commitment to the people of Hawaii and his effective leadership are why I believe it is important to return him to the Senate."

Schatz faces Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) in a campaign that has divided Hawaii Democrats.

The president's endorsement was first reported by Huffington Post.

Schatz endorsed Obama in the 2008 presidential primary while Hanabusa was an early backer of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Schatz was appointed to the Senate by Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) in late 2012 following the death of longtime Sen. Daniel Inouye (D). By doing so, Abercrombie refused to fulfill Inouye's dying request: for Hanabusa to replace him in the Senate.

Obama has also endorsed Abercrombie, who faces a contested primary. Obama appeared in a general election ad for Hanabusa in 2010, when she was a challenger trying to unseat a House Republican.

Hanabusa has the backing of Inouye's widow and former senator Daniel Akaka (D), a close ally of the late senator.

This post has been updated. 

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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