Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui says he will run for the office he holds

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui will seek election to the office he was appointed to late last year as part of a shake-up of Hawaii’s elected leadership in the wake of the Dec. 17 death of U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

Tsutsui, 41, of Waiehu announced his candidacy Thursday afternoon, shortly before he received his first endorsement – from the Hawaii Construction Alliance. Retired U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka will serve as Tsutsui’s honorary campaign chairman.

“Shan is a shining example of the future of leadership in Hawaii,” Akaka said in Tsutsui’s announcement. “He is a relationship builder, forming genuine connections with others, and works to bring out the best in people.

“His vision, dedication and commitment to the residents of Hawaii demonstrate the true aloha spirit that will lead Hawaii into the future,” Akaka said.

Hawaii Construction Alliance Executive Director Tyler Dos Santos-Tam credited Tsutsui with taking “a lead role in improving Hawaii’s economy by actively investing in new construction, repair-and-maintenance projects and public-private initiatives.”

The alliance represents more than 15,000 carpenters, masons, operating engineers and other laborers, according to its endorsement of Tsutsui.

Alliance Vice President Peter Ganaban said Tsutsui “has proven himself to be a forward-thinking leader as lieutenant governor.”

“His efforts have helped to create jobs and improve our state’s infrastructure at this critical time,” Ganaban said.

Tsutsui’s political career has been marked by firsts. He’s the first Mauian to rise to the position of Senate president, and he’s the first Valley Isle resident to sit as lieutenant governor. If he wins election to the position, he’ll be the first Mauian elected to the state’s second-highest post.

“It has been an honor to serve as lieutenant governor this year,” Tsutsui said in his announcement. “In this short time, I have learned much about the responsibilities of the office and look forward to continuing to work on initiatives and programs.

“Going forward, I will continue to follow my philosophy of balancing the needs of today while keeping an eye on the future,” the Waiehu resident said. “Moving Hawaii forward will require great commitment, sacrifice and compassion on the part of all of our residents, and I am equally dedicated to that goal as Hawaii’s lieutenant governor.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Tsutsui as lieutenant governor after the governor chose former Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated with Inouye’s death.

Tsutsui and his wife, Lyndelle, have three daughters, Mikayla, Kaylee and Kenna. He was elected as Central Maui’s senator in 2002, and he held that office until Jan. 3, when he was sworn in as lieutenant governor.

In the Senate, Tsutsui also served as vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee from 2005 to 2010, vice chairman of the Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs from 2007 to 2010, vice chairman of the Committee on Tourism from 2003 to 2004 and as a member of the committees on Education, Military Affairs, Housing, Human Services and Government Operations.

He is a former small-business owner and a financial adviser.

According to Abercrombie’s public schedule, the governor will travel to San Diego for personal matters from Sunday through Tuesday, and Tsutsui will act as governor during that time.

Tsutsui’s announcement was made on his campaign website,, and on Facebook at