First Asian-American woman, first Buddhist, and first Japanese-born American to be elected to the Senate.
"Mazie Hirono is an American politician serving as the junior United States Senator from Hawaii since 2013. Hirono, a member of the Democratic Party, previously served as a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1985 to 1995 and as the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii from 1994 to 2002 under Governor Ben Cayetano. She was the Democratic nominee for Governor of Hawaii in 2002 but was defeated by Republican Linda Lingle. She was a member of the United States House of Representatives for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district from 2007 to 2013.
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). The Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of Daniel Akaka, Hirono won the election, defeating Linda Lingle in a re-match landslide victory by 63% to 37%. Hirono was sworn in on January 3, 2013, by the Vice President and President of the Senate, Joe Biden. Hirono was the only person of Asian ancestry serving in the U.S. Senate from 2013 until 2016 when senators Tammy Duckworth and Kamala Harris were elected in the states of Illinois and California. She is the current dean of Hawaii's Congressional Delegation.
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. From 1980 to 1994, Hirono served in the Hawaii House of Representatives, passing more than 120 laws. She was honored by a coalition of leaseholders as Legislator of the Year in 1984.
She ran for Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii and won the Democratic primary defeating fellow State Representative Jackie Young 65%–26%... She ran for re-election in 1998… In the general election, Hirono defeated Republican State Senator Stan Koki 50%–49%, a difference of 5,254 votes.
In 1994, she joined the ticket of incumbent Lieutenant Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano and was consequently elected to a historic administration led by the first Filipino American governor and first Japanese immigrant lieutenant governor. During her tenure as lieutenant governor, Hirono was also president of the National Commission on Teaching, America's Future, as well as the Hawaii Policy Group. She also spearheaded the first-in-the-nation comprehensive Pre-Plus program, a precursor to universal pre-school education in the United States.
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.
On September 23, Hirono ran for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, being vacated by incumbent U.S. Congressman Ed Case… 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%.
In 2008, Hirono was named the national preschool advocacy organization Pre-K Now's "Pre-K Champion" for her efforts on behalf of pre-kindergarten legislation.
Hirono's voting history on abortion policies in the US House of Representatives is congruent with her reputation as a liberal. Hirono co-sponsored and signed the Prevention First Act of 2007. This act was aimed towards increasing public access to contraception, as well as increasing government funding to support the use of contraception. The act takes a pro-active stance on birth control, with an emphasis on informing and protecting women from unintended pregnancy. On May 4, 2011, Hirono voted against the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would have prohibited federal health care program from covering abortion costs, with exceptions being given to life-threatening cases… In July 2011, Hirono continued to show her support for contraceptives by signing the Access to Birth Control Act, which mandates that pharmacies provide birth control to customers without undue delay. The ABP Act also ensures that customers seeking birth control can obtain without being submitted to unwanted harassment or breaches in patient confidentiality. Emily's List, a Democratic pro-choice action committee, pledged support to Hirono for her history of supporting contraceptive and abortion policies during her term. The endorsement of Emily's List helped Hirono in her 2012 Senatorial race, contributing $129,714 to her campaign.
On May 19, 2011, Mazie Hirono announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat left open by Senator Daniel Akaka, who was retiring at the end of his term in 2012… She faced former Governor of Hawaii, Republican Linda Lingle, in the general election on November 6, 2012, and won. She is the first female senator from Hawaii, as well as the first Asian-born immigrant to be elected to the U.S. Senate…
As of 2010, Hirono had a "F" rating from the National Rifle Association due to her consistent voting record in support of gun control." (1)