There is no question that the most prominent figure in Hawaii politics since statehood was Sen. Daniel Inouye.
With his passing, a void was left not only in Hawaii but also in Washington, D.C. The question in the Aug. 9 Democratic primary election to serve out the remainder of Inouye's term is who can best fill both of those voids.
Clearly, Inouye believed that Rep. Colleen Hanabusa was that person. He was her mentor, but more than that, he saw her keen intellect and ability to lead. Her years in Hawaii's state Legislature convinced Inouye. His dying wish, conveyed to Gov. Neil Abercrombie in December 2012, was that Hanabusa succeed him.
Her selection as the first female state Senate president was validation of an innate gift she possesses - the gift of leadership. That selection by her colleagues in 2006 lifted a glass ceiling in the Legislature. It also proved that the one true sign of a leader is that others want to follow him or her.
Whether Hanabusa or incumbent Brian Schatz is elected, seniority will not mean much to Hawaii for many years. The argument that Schatz is younger and will accumulate more seniority in the long run is a bad one. The question is who can work most collegially with other senators in Hawaii's and the country's best interest - right now.
Hanabusa has been called a "policy wonk." Sounds kind of nerdy, but what it truly means is that she delves deeply into proposed legislation to study the consequences of the entire bill. She is an unapologetic intellectual who submerges herself into the details of policy.
Voters need to ask themselves: "Who is the logical successor to Sen. Inouye?" Who should represent Hawaii as the defense department executes its "Pivot to the Pacific?"
Sen. Schatz may be a very fine person. But Colleen Hanabusa has been training her whole life to assume a position of leadership for the state and the country.
Hanabusa is our recommendation for the United States Senate.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.