Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s decision to buck the dying wish of legendary Sen. Daniel Inouye and install his own No. 2, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, as the state’s soon-to-be senior senator may be less surprising than it seems.Abercrombie and Inouye were not allies. In fact, their two-decade relationship in Congress was marked by rifts — most notably over Inouye’s encouragement of a primary challenger to Abercrombie in the 2010 governor’s race. Abercrombie and Schatz were running mates in that same election.So when it came time to choose Inouye’s successor, Abercrombie went his own way — ignoring the deceased senator’s appeal to tap his protégé, Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, for the plum appointment.“These splits go way back in the party, and although I’m sure the governor gave due consideration to the senator’s request, I don’t think there was any personal relationship there that would’ve weighed in,” said John Hart, chairman of the department of communication at Hawaii Pacific University. “I think in the end, the governor did what he felt was best for Hawaii, the party; and is also making a statement about who’s in charge of the Democratic Party here in Hawaii.”In 2010, Inouye encouraged Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann to run in the gubernatorial primary against Abercrombie, although the senator never made an explicit endorsement. The longtime senator was also critical of Abercrombie’s decision to leave Congress early to run for governor, noting that he was leaving Democrats a vote short on major votes.Inouye and his aides made clear shortly before his death last week that his final wish was to ensure Hanabusa succeeds him in the Senate. Hanabusa; Schatz (pronounced “shots”); and Esther Kia’aina, deputy director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, were the finalists for the position.“Surprise, surprise. Abercrombie got even with Inouye and declared his independence in a dramatic fashion,” said Larry Sabato, the director for the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

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