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Gov. Abercrombie to appoint Inouye’s replacement

Sen. Daniele Inouye's (D-Hawaii) replacement will be selected by Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) from a field of three candidates provided by the state party.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D). (Marco Garcia/Associated Press)

Hawaii, like most states, does not require a special election soon after a vacancy occurs in its U.S. Senate delegation. Instead, Inouye's appointed replacement will serve until 2014, at which point a special election will determine who serves the final two years of Inouye's term.

But the appointment process in Hawaii is a little more detailed than in other states.

The state Democratic Party must provide a list of three possible replacements, from which Abercrombie will make his selection. State law also requires that the appointee be of the same party as Inouye, though that wasn't likely to be an issue given Abercrombie is also a Democrat.

Wyoming, where Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) was appointed in 2007, has a similar process.

It wasn't immediately clear who Abercrombie might pick. Both of the state's House members are relative newcomers, with Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) having been first elected in 2010 and Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard (D) set to take office in January. Gabbard would be a very interesting pick as a 31-year-old rising star and one of the first female combat veterans to serve in Congress.

Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) will ascend to the state's other Senate seat in January after winning the election to replace retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka (D).

Inouye, 88, died Monday of a respiratory ailment.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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