Hawaii, which had a Jewish governor for eight recent years, will have a Jewish senator in the next Congress.

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, who served in the state’s House of Representatives in 1998-’06, was appointed this week by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to succeed Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died Dec. 17 at 88. Schatz was to be sworn in Thursday.

Schatz’s appointment brings the number of Jewish senators back to 11, following the retirement of Connecticut’s Joseph Lieberman.

“I make this decision with full confidence that Brian’s appointment is in the best interest of the state of Hawaii and the nation,” Abercrombie aid in a prepared statement.

Linda Lingle, Republican governor of Hawaii in 2002-’10, lost a Senate race last month.

Schatz, 40, will serve until a special election is held in 2014. Former chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, he led Barack Obama’s election campaign in Hawaii in 2008. He earlier served as CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii, a social services provider.

The 113 session of Congress starts Jan. 3.

Hawaii has an estimated Jewish population of 10,000. The first mention of Jews there was an entry in a 1798 log by Ebenezer Townsend, a sailor on the whaling ship Neptune, that the king came aboard accompanied by “a Jew cook.”

steve@jewishweek.org