U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will apply for the Senate vacancy created by the death of Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, her spokesman said Wednesday.
Hanabusa, 61, is the early favorite for the post, having won the endorsement of Inouye, a fellow Democrat.
Inouye said in a letter to Gov. Neil Abercrombie dated Monday that his last wish was for Hanabusa to succeed him. Inouye died that day from respiratory complications. He was 88.
On Thursday, Inouye will be the first person to lie in state at the Capitol rotunda since Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks and Gerald Ford.
Abercrombie will decide Inouye's replacement. His spokeswoman, Louise Kim McCoy, declined to comment Wednesday on how much weight the governor might give to Inouye's request in appointing his replacement.
Abercrombie will choose Inouye's successor from a list of three candidates submitted by the state Democratic party before an election is held in 2014. The party's central committee plans to meet Dec. 28 to select the candidates. The application deadline for prospective candidates is Monday. Under state law, candidates must come from the same party as the prior incumbent.
McCoy said Abercrombie has no plans to apply for the vacancy himself. Neither does retiring U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, who is supporting Hanabusa for the job, according to his spokesman.
Inouye also supported Hanabusa during her 2010 House bid.
State Party Executive Director Debi Hartmann said the party will consider only the names of those who apply. She said she has no idea how many people might apply but expects a number of qualified people to do so.
Should Hanabusa be the successful candidate, there would need to be a special election to fill her seat. She just won her second term in last month's election.
U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, who will replace Akaka in the next Congress, said she would be "delighted" to work with Hanabusa in the Senate, if Abercrombie chooses her.
"I know that we have a lot of committed, talented people in Hawaii, and whoever the governor chooses I will work with very, very closely, and our entire delegation will pull together to work on behalf of Hawaii," she said.
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