2. Dan Inouye

U.S. Senator

October, 2002

Dan Delivers. It was his campaign slogan in 1992, and, according to Bank of Hawaii Vice Chair of Financial Services Donna Tanoue, that is precisely the reason Sen. Daniel K. Inouye is perceived to be one of the state’s top power brokers. “There’s no doubt that, because of his stature and rank within the Senate, and because of the committee positions he holds, he’s been able to deliver for Hawaii,” says Tanoue.

Since being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as Hawaii’s first Congressman and the first Japanese American in Congress in 1959 (three years later he began his career in the Senate), Inouye has brought in substantial amounts of money to help facilitate economic development in the state – particularly in terms of defense appropriations. Last fiscal year alone, Inouye, who chairs the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, brought in $1.2 billion in federal funding to the Islands, about $850 million of which was earmarked for military projects.

Currently serving his seventh term, 78-year-old Inouye is the 10th-longest serving senator, with the odds in his favor of becoming the longest-serving senator in American history. However, his Hawaii-based chief of staff, Jennifer Goto Sabas, is quick to point out that it’s not just Inouye’s seniority, but also his tenacity and innate ability to transcend bipartisan politics in the institution for which he is highly revered by constituents and colleagues alike.

“His ability to develop alliances with other senators on a bipartisan basis is really an extraordinary strength he has, and that’s how he’s been able to remain in such a pivotal position,” says Jeffrey Watanabe, managing partner of Honolulu-based law firm Watanabe, Ing & Kawashima, who cherishes his longstanding relationship with the senator. “Dan Inouye is truly evergreen, and we’ve been very fortunate to have him, but I don’t think he’s duplicable. I honestly don’t think we’ll ever have another Dan Inouye again. Whoever replaces him has got mighty big shoes to fill.”

— Jacy L. Youn

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Jacy L. Youn