Mazie Hirono was born in Fukushima, Japan, and moved to Hawaii with her mother in 1955. She earned a bachelor's in psychology from the University of Hawaii in 1970 and a law degree from Georgetown University in 1978.
Hirono practiced law in Honolulu until she was elected to the Hawaii Legislature in 1980. She was elected lieutenant governor with Gov. Benjamin Cayetano in 1994 and 1998. She ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2002.
She was elected to the U.S. House in 2006.
Hirono and her husband, Leighton, live in Honolulu.
Mazie Hirono has followed a low-key course in the U.S. House, yielding to more senior members of Hawaii's congressional delegation.
Rather then seeking re-election to the House in 2012, Hirono chose to run for the U.S. Senate, bidding to replace longtime U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka. She easily defeated Ed Case in the August 2012 Democratic primary. She faces Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle in the November general election.
Lingle is trying to tie Hirono to a Congress that has abysmal approval ratings. Lingle said Hirono wants to make the election about Hawaii's pride in President Barack Obama and her tough childhood, rather than about what's best for Hawaii's future.
Hirono's campaign in July 2012 released a 90-second ad, entitled "Opposites Attract," featuring the endorsement of Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young. "If you're looking for a United States senator who doesn't just talk about bipartisanship but actually knows how to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done, Mazie Hirono will be that senator," Young says in the ad.
In 2011, she said she would work to save Hawaii's 50-year-old East-West Center after a House committee voted to strip it of $10.8 million in federal funding.
Hirono supports the 2010 health care reform bill and she applauded the June 2012 Supreme Court decision upholding the legislation, saying the legislation had already had a positive impact on Hawaii's families and seniors.
She voted for the 2009 approximately $800 billion economic stimulus package backed by Obama. The legislation granted $750 million to the National Park Service, including more than $15 million for improvement projects in Hawaii.
Hirono endorsed Obama, who was born in Hawaii, over then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton early in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary battle. She said Obama could unite the nation and that Hawaii's mix of cultures has helped Obama understand the nation's diversity.
Hirono joined several other lawmakers in May 2010 at a reading at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., of a resolution apologizing for "ill-conceived policies" and acts of violence against American Indians by the U.S. government.
She followed other Hawaii Democrats in campaigning against the Iraq war and has followed other Democratic initiatives, including a raise in the minimum wage, boosting of stem cell research and legislation bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq.
"The Democratic majority is very much in tune on the need to change direction in our country in so many areas: education, the war in Iraq and Social Security," Hirono said.
Hirono represents rural Oahu, Hawaii's most populous island, and the mainly small-town and rural voters of the other islands. She is the first House member born in Japan, although there have been several Japanese-Americans.
Committee Assignments: Education and the Workforce; Transportation and Infrastructure
American Conservative Union Rating: 0
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 95
Recent winning percentages for office currently held: 72% (2010), 76% (2008), 61% (2006).
(Last updated by Oskar Garcia on August 21, 2012.)