Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie Wednesday appointed Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the late Sen. Daniel Inouye.

"I made this decision with full confidence that Brian's appointment is in the best interest of Hawaii and the nation," Abercrombie said in a statement.

Schatz was one of about a dozen candidates vying for the seat.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, 40, was Inouye's personal favorite to succeed him. Before he died, Inouye wrote a letter to Abercrombie, released to the public by Inouye's office, asking Abercrombie to appoint Hanabusa.

Abercrombie said Hawaii will benefit from Hanabusa's continued leadership on the House Armed Services Committee, which is vital to Hawaii.

"Without her in that capacity, we would have no one in the House or Senate serving in this critical position."

Schatz was inaugurated as lieutenant governor on Dec. 6, 2010. Before that he served for eight years as the chief executive officer of Helping Hands Hawaii, one of the state's largest non-profit community social services organizations.

From 2008 to 2010, he was the chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

He served in Hawaii's House of Representatives from 1998 to 2006.

Inouye, who died Dec. 17 at 88, received a soldier's military honors when he was laid to rest Sunday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in Honolulu. The World War II veteran, who earned the Medal of Honor, had served in Congress since the moment of Hawaii's statehood, first in a House seat starting in 1959 before winning a Senate seat in 1962.

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