Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz will apply to be considered for the U.S. Senate vacancy created by Monday's death of Sen. Daniel Inouye. Should he be successful, Maui Sen. Shan Tsutsui, state Senate president, would be in line to succeed Schatz as lieutenant governor.
The Democratic Party of Hawaii's State Central Committee is set to meet Dec. 28 to recommend up to three names for Gov. Neil Abercrombie to appoint a replacement.
The committee can only choose candidates who formally apply.
"No one can take the place of Senator Inouye, and we all continue to mourn his loss," Schatz said in a statement. "On December 28, the Democratic Party of Hawaii will meet and decide upon three names for the governor to consider for appointment to the United States Senate. I will apply to be considered for this vacancy. I hope to make the case to the State Central Committee members that I should be one of the three names that the governor will ultimately consider."
Schatz said he would not comment further until the memorials for Inouye conclude this weekend.
Inouye had sent a letter dated Monday to Abercrombie, requesting that U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa be named his successor. Hanabusa also has applied for the vacancy.
Should Hanabusa be the successful candidate, there would need to be a special election to fill her seat.
The application deadline for prospective candidates is Monday. Under state law, candidates must come from the same party as the prior incumbent.
Abercrombie's appointment will serve until the 2014 election, when a special election can be held to elect someone to fill out the remainder of Inouye's term, which runs until 2016.
A spokeswoman for Abercrombie said that the governor 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.
Under Hawaii Revised Statutes, if the lieutenant governor's seat becomes vacant, "the powers and duties of the office shall devolve upon the president of the Senate."
Tsutsui, who was re-elected Senate president shortly after the general election, did not immediately respond to a message left with his office Thursday afternoon.
If Tsutsui were to decline the post, it would then fall to House Speaker Calvin Say, before falling to Attorney General David Louie.
* The Associated Press contributed to this report.