U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz issued a statement on Friday in response to Irene Hirano Inouye's endorsement of U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Democratic primary next year.
Inouye's widow had said it was Inouye's last wish for Hanabusa to fill out his term.
I realize it may be unusual to comment on an opponent's endorsement, but I have great respect for Irene Inouye and her husband's legacy to Hawaii.
When news of Rep. Hanabusa's candidacy broke over a week ago, I phoned Mrs. Inouye to express my respect for her and the late Senator. Mrs. Inouye very graciously informed me she would be supporting Rep. Hanabusa's candidacy. I told Mrs. Inouye that I understood her decision, and assured her that, as Hawaii's Senator, I will continue doing everything in my power to honor Sen. Inouye's memory and accomplishments.
As for my work in the U.S. Senate and on this campaign, I will continue to focus on building an even stronger, more prosperous future for Hawaii, and do so grounded in our state's unique and time-honored traditions.
Hirano Inouye said Friday that Schatz, in their telephone call, had also asked her for her support.
"Brian called last week and politely asked if I would remain neutral or endorse him," she said in a statement.