Schatz to quit as Dems' leader


POSTED: Saturday, December 05, 2009

Hawaii Democratic Party Chairman Brian Schatz announced he is stepping down from the post early next year, but declined to reveal his future political plans.

“;I will not finalize my plans or announce anything until 2010,”; Schatz said yesterday.

Speculation has focused on Schatz, a former state legislator, joining the crowded Democratic race for lieutenant governor next year.

He already has set up a campaign committee and has been raising money for a potential run at the office.

Among those who already have declared an intent to run for the state's No. 2 post are: State Sens. Robert Bunda, Gary Hooser and Norman Sakamoto, along with state Reps. Jon Riki Karamatsu and Lyla Berg.

Schatz organized the Hawaii Obama Campaign, starting in late 2006 and was elected as party chairman at the State Democratic Convention in May 2008.

“;It's time for new leadership to work on strengthening the organization and making sure we have a successful 2010 election cycle,”; he said.

He added that with the state's current financial situation, and the impact it has had on communities, all incumbents—Democrats and Republicans—should be wary of angry voters.

“;I think that everyone in a position of authority has to be concerned about the frustration that voters are feeling,”; he said. “;There's a tremendous hunger for change, so we all need to be responsive to that and recognize that the status quo is not working.”;

The party's Central Committee members have been notified of his decision, according to a news release. Members must now select an interim chair to serve until the next state convention in May.