ENG: Mazie Keiko Hirono (Japanese name: 広野 慶子 Hirono Keiko, born November 3, 1947) is the junior United States Senator from Hawaii, in office since 2013. Hirono, a member of the Democratic Party, previously served as a member of the United States House of Representatives for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district from 2007 to 2013. She was Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii from 1994 to 2002, serving under Governor Ben Cayetano, and a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1985 to 1995.
She is the first elected female Senator from Hawaii, the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, the first U.S. Senator born in Japan, and the nation's first Buddhist Senator. She considers herself a non-practicing Buddhist, and is often cited with Hank Johnson as the first Buddhist to serve in the United States Congress. She is the third woman to be elected to Congress from the state of Hawaii (after Patsy Mink and Pat Saiki).
Hirono was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of Daniel Akaka. Hirono won the election defeating former Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican, in a landslide victory (Hirono's 63% to Lingle's 37%). Hirono was sworn in as Hawaii's first female United States Senator on January 3, 2013, by the Vice President and President of the Senate, Joe Biden.
Early life and education
Mazie Hirono was born on November 3, 1947, in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Although born in Japan, she was born to a mother who was an American citizen.
At the age of 16, her maternal grandfather, Sato Hiroshi, immigrated to Hawaii to work on sugar plantations; Hirono’s grandmother, Tari Shinoki, was a picture bride. After finding plantation work difficult, they opened a bathhouse on River Street in Honolulu in 1928 and saved their money. The couple had a daughter, Sato Laura Chie, in 1924 and a son, Akira. In 1939, Tari returned to Japan with their son and daughter; Hiroshi remained behind to run the bathhouse for two more years before rejoining his family in 1941. Though Laura felt out of place in Japan, in 1946, aged 22, she married a veterinarian, Hirono Matabe, and moved with her husband to southern Fukushima. The couple had three children, Roy, Mazie and Wayne; Mazie was the middle child and only daughter.
Hirono's father was a compulsive gambler and alcoholic who would pawn his wife's possessions for gambling money. Treated "like a slave," by her in-laws, Hirono said, in 1951 Laura left her abusive marriage. The deciding moment for her had come after Akira, who had returned to Hawaii after the war, had sent some money for a school uniform for her youngest son Wayne, but her husband had taken it to buy an overcoat As Laura later recounted, "My brother sent money to buy a school uniform for my son. My husband took the money, went to town and never came back home. It was getting closer to the start of school, so I went to look for him.
I found out he had ordered an overcoat for himself with the money. He didn't need an overcoat in the spring. That's when I made up my mind to leave." After telling her in-laws she would be taking her elder son and Hirono to school in her hometown, Laura left the house, never to return. Selling her clothes for the rail fare, she returned to her parents' house. Laura said, "My husband never came around once; my parents were supportive and took all of us in. My mother gave us money. I guess it all boils down to love."
Hirono's grandparents decided to return to Hawaii, but as Japanese citizens without professional backgrounds, they could only immigrate under a quota system; as Laura had citizenship, she decided to return first. As Wayne was only three, Laura left him with her parents and returned with Mazie and Roy to Hawaii in March 1955, sending for Wayne and her parents in 1957.
"She determined that she had to get away, and it wasn't enough to even be living in the same country — she wanted to put thousands of miles between them," Hirono said. "That took a lot of courage. I always tell my mom there is nothing I can do, hard as it is to be in politics, to be in public life, that I think is harder then what she did."
After first living with her uncle Akira, Mazie, Roy and her mother moved into a rooming house on Kewalo Street in Honolulu. "The first place had one room, one table, three chairs and one bed," Laura said. "Mazie and Roy slept on the bed. I slept on the floor with a futon. The landlady was so nice. The rent was $35, but she charged us less because I didn't have a job." Laura found work for Hawaii Hochi as a typesetter and also worked three nights a week for a catering company.
Though money was tight and the family was forced to move often, Laura kept them together. Mazie Hirono recalled that she and her brother used to get a dime once or twice a week from their mother. "We both had baseball piggy banks. My older brother spent all his dimes but I saved mine. But one day I came home and the dimes were gone. My mother had to use it to buy food."
Hirono never saw her father again, and he has since died. Laura became a newspaper proofreader in 1961 and retired from the Hawaii Newspaper Agency in 1986; Roy became a Hawaii Electric supervisor. Wayne drowned in 1978, aged 26. Her grandfather, Hiroshi, died in 1989, and her grandmother Tari passed away in 2000, aged nearly a hundred.
Raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Hirono attended Kaʻahumanu Elementary and Koko Head Elementary Schools. She later graduated from Kaimuki High School, which at the time of her attendance had a predominantly Japanese American student body. Upon graduating from high school, Hirono enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa where, in 1970, she received a B.A. in psychology. She left Hawaii to attend Georgetown University Law Center. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and obtained her J.D. in 1978. Hirono returned to Honolulu where she practiced law.
Hawaii House of Representatives (1981–1995) - Elections
In 1980, she was elected to Hawaii's 12th House District in a multi-member district with Democrat State Representative David Hagino. Hawaii eliminated MMDs and after redistricting, she ran for Hawaii's 20th House District and won. After redistricting again in 1984, she ran for the newly redrawn Hawaii's 32nd House District and won. In 1992, after redistricting, she ran in the newly redrawn Hawaii's 22nd House District. She was challenged in the Democratic primary and won the three candidate field with 91% of the vote. She won the general election and served only one term in the 22nd district before retiring in 1994 to run for statewide office.
Lieutenant Governor (1994–2002) - Elections - 1994
She ran for Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii and won the Democratic primary defeating fellow State Representative Jackie Young 65%–26%. In the general election, she defeated three other candidates: Danny Kaniela Kaleikini (Best Party), State Representative Fred Hemmings (Republican Party), and Jack Morse (Green Party) 37%–31%–29%–4%.
She ran for re-election in 1998. She was challenged in the primary by Nancy L. Cook and defeated her 89%–11%. In the general election, Hirono defeated Republican State Senator Stan Koki 50%–49%, a difference of 5,254 votes.
2002 gubernatorial election
Hirono originally wanted to run for Mayor of Honolulu in a potential 2002 special election created by the vacancy of incumbent Mayor Jeremy Harris, who was planning to resign in order to run for Governor of Hawaii. However, due to internal controversies, Harris dropped out of the gubernatorial election and remained mayor for another two years. Hirono switched races.
Hirono maneuvered to gain the support of potential Harris voters in her challenge against former State House Majority Leader Ed Case. Through the entire primary campaign season, Hirono and Case polled almost equally. Hirono defeated Case in the September 21 Democratic primary, 41%-40%, a difference of 2,613 votes.
Only a few weeks later, Republican nominee and Mayor of Maui Linda Lingle defeated Hirono 52%-47%. She became Hawaii's first female governor.
U.S. House of Representatives (2007–2013) - Elections - 2006
On September 23, Hirono ran for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, being vacated by incumbent U.S. Congressman Ed Case. The Democratic primary was very competitive. There were ten candidates, seven of whom served in the Hawaii Legislature. Hirono's advantage was the fact that she was the only candidate who had held statewide office and as a result had the most name recognition. She also raised more money than any other candidate in the race, mostly because of the endorsement of EMILY's List. Hirono also loaned her campaign $100,000. She won with a plurality of just 22% of the vote. State Senator Colleen Hanabusa ranked second with 21%, and was only 845 votes short of Hirono.
In the general election, she defeated Republican State Senator Bob Hogue 61%-39%.
Hirono won re-election to a second term with 76% of the vote. She outperformed presidential candidate Barack Obama, a native of Honolulu, by three points.
Hirono won re-election to a third term with 72% of the vote.
2012 U.S. Senate election
On May 19, 2011, Mazie Hirono announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat left open by Senator Daniel Akaka, who is retiring at the end of his term in 2012. She won the Democratic primary election on August 11, 2012. Hirono was endorsed as one of Democracy for America's Dean Dozen. She faced former Governor of Hawaii, Republican Linda Lingle, in the general election on November 6, 2012, and won. She will be the first female Senator from Hawaii as well as the first Asian-born immigrant to be elected to the U.S. Senate. When she takes office, she will complete the first completely non-Christian congressional delegation.
In the 2012 Campaign, Hirono was able to raise $5,166,586,with approximately 52% of that amount coming from large corporations, whereas Lingle raised $5,457,797, with 74% of the funding coming from large corporations. Hirono ended up spending $5,049,378.57, to come up with a 63% win over her opponent, while Lingle spent $4,800,027.
On December 12, 2012, the Senate Democratic Steering Committee announced that she will have a seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and so will have influence on matters ranging from approving nominations of Federal judges to setting criminal-justice policy.
January 30, 2013