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Daniel Kahikina Akaka (born September 11, 1924) is the junior U.S. Senator from Hawaiimarker and a member of the Democratic Party. He is the first U.S. Senator of Native Hawaiian ancestry and is currently the only member of the Senate who has Chinese ancestry. With the departure of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaskamarker he became the fourth oldest member of the United States Senate after Robert Byrd, Frank Lautenberg, and Daniel Inouye.

Early life and career

Akaka was born in Honolulumarker to Annie Kahoa and Kahikina Akaka. He entered the military immediately after high school graduation, serving from 1943 to 1947. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including service on Saipanmarker and Tinianmarker. He worked as a welder and a mechanic and spent his final months of the war as a first mate on the vessel Morning Star.

Entering college (funded by the G.I. Bill), he earned a Bachelor of Education in 1952 from the University of Hawaii. He later received a Master of Education from the same school in 1966. He worked as a high school teacher in Honolulu from 1953 until 1960, when he was then hired as a vice principal. In 1963, he became head principal. In 1969, he was hired by the Department of Education as a chief program planner. Akaka then continued working in government, holding positions as director of the Hawaii Office of Economic Opportunity, human resources assistant for state Governor George Ariyoshi, and director of the Progressive Neighborhoods Program.

Akaka was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1976 to represent Hawaii's Second Congressional District. He won seven consecutive elections by wide margins.

United States Senate

Akaka was appointed by Governor John Waihee to the U.S. Senate in April 1990 to serve temporarily after the death of Senator Spark Matsunaga, and sworn into office on May 16, 1990. In November of the same year, he was elected to complete the remaining four years of Matsunaga's unexpired term. He was re-elected in 1994 for a full six-year term and, with over 70 percent of the popular vote, again in 2000. Akaka is the only current senator who has been elected to the Senate multiple times after being appointed.

Since 2000, Akaka has sponsored legislation to afford sovereignty to native Hawaiians. The Akaka Bill is presently under consideration.
Akaka at Senate youth program

In April 2006, he was selected by Time as one of "America's Five Worst Senators." The article criticized him for mainly authoring minor legislation, calling him "master of the minor resolution and the bill that dies in committee".

The other Senator from Hawaii is Daniel Inouye. Despite almost three decades' difference in Senate tenure, the two Daniels were born four days apart. Akaka is married to Mary Mildred "Millie" Chong; they have five children (four sons and a daughter), 14 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Like Inouye and 21 other Senators, Akaka voted against authorization of the use of military force against Iraq.

In February 2009, a bill was filed in the Philippine House of Representatives by Rep. Antonio Diaz seeking to confer honorary Filipinomarker citizenship on Akaka, Senators Daniel Inouye and Ted Stevens and Representative Bob Filner, for their role in securing the passage of benefits for Filipino World War II veterans.

2006 re-election campaign

Running for another term in 2006, Akaka won the September 23 Democratic primary against U.S. Congressman Ed Case with 54% to Case's 46%. Akaka's Republican challenger was state Representative Cynthia Thielen, who was appointed to fill the place of Republican primary winner Jerry Coffee, who had withdrawn earlier in the year due to health reasons. In the general election on November 7, 2006, Daniel Akaka defeated Thielen, 61.8% to 36,4%.

Committee assignments


Electoral history

2006 Hawaii United States Senatorial Election

Daniel Akaka (D) (inc.) 61.8%
Cynthia Thielen (R) 36.4%
Lloyd Mallan (Lib.) 1.9%

2006 Hawaii Democratic United States Senatorial Primary Election

Daniel Akaka (inc.) 53%
Ed Case 46%

2000 Hawaii United States Senatorial Election

Daniel Akaka (D) (inc.) 73%
John Carroll (R) 25%
Jeff Mallan (Lib.) 1%

1994 Hawaii United States Senatorial Election

Daniel Akaka (D) (inc.) 72%
Maria Hustace (R) 24%

1990 Hawaii United States Senatorial Special Election

Daniel Akaka (D) (inc.) 54%
Pat Saiki (R) 44%
Ken Schoolland (Lib.) 2%

See also


  1. About Senator Akaka Daniel Kahikina Akaka, U.S. Senator of Hawaii
  2. Genealogy from
  3. Massimo Calabresi and Perry Bacon, Jr., "Daniel Akaka: Master of the Minor", Time Magazine, April 24, 2006, page 30.
  4. U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  5. "Akaka wins Hawai i primary",, September 27, 2006.

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