HONOLULU — Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz of Hawaii was appointed Wednesday to succeed the late US Senator Daniel Inouye.
Governor Neil Abercrombie announced the appointment after receiving a list of three candidates from the state Democratic Party earlier in the day. The other candidates were US Representative Colleen Hanabusa and Esther Kiaaina, a deputy director in the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Inouye died Dec. 17 of respiratory complications at the age of 88. He had sent Abercrombie a letter that day, saying he would like Hanabusa, 61, to succeed him.
‘‘Senator Inouye conveyed his final wish to Governor Abercrombie. While we are very disappointed that it was not honored, it was the governor’s decision to make,’’ Jennifer Sabas, Inouye’s chief of staff, said in a statement. ‘‘We wish Brian Schatz the best of luck.’’
Schatz will serve until an election is held in 2014. Had Hanabusa been appointed, a special election would have been needed to fill her seat.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid had urged Abercrombie to name Inouye’s successor before the end of the year. Schatz could be sworn in as early as this week, which would make him Hawaii’s senior senator heading into the new Congress on Jan. 3.
Senator Daniel Akaka is retiring at the end of this Congress, after 22 years in the Senate. Democratic Representative Mazie Hirono was elected in November to succeed him.
Schatz, 40, is a former state representative and a former chairman of the state Democratic Party.