Mazie Hirono was born on November 3, 1947, in Fukushima, Japan. When she was almost eight years old, she and her siblings were brought to Hawaii by their mother, who was trying to escape an abusive husband.
In 1970, Hirono earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM), where she had participated in a number of anti-Vietnam War protests and experienced what she would later characterize as a “political awakening.” Also during her college years, Hirono read Betty Friedan‘s The Feminine Mystique, which she credits as having been “the most influential” book to which she was exposed as a student.
After earning a JD at Georgetown Law School in 1978, Hirono took a job in the antitrust division of the Hawaii attorney general’s office. In 1980 she ran successfully for a seat in the Hawaii House of Representatives — a post she held until 1994, the year she was elected as the state’s lieutenant governor.
In 2002, Hirono ran for governor of Hawaii but was defeated by Republican Linda Lingle. Two years later, Hirono founded the Patsy T. Mink Political Action Committee, named after the first nonwhite minority woman ever elected to Congress (1965). This PAC’s mission is to help elect “progressive pro-choice Democratic women” to public office in the state of Hawaii.
In 2006 the voters of Hawaii’s Second Congressional District elected Hirono to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she promptly joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Six years after that, Hirono became the first Asian-American woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, where she has occupied seats on several powerful committees and subcommittees, including the Armed Services Committee, the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the Subcommittee on Seapower, and the Subcommittee on the Constitution.
Hirono was a determined opponent of Republican Donald Trump from the moment of his 2016 election to the White House. When Trump in September 2017 announced his wish to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — which had been put into effect by a 2012 executive action through which then-President Barack Obama provided many illegal aliens with temporary work authorization as well as protection from deportation — Hirono condemned Trump’s “cruel and unnecessary” effort to “attack minority communities and stoke the fear and divisiveness that served as pillars of his campaign and inform his presidency.”
In October 2017, Hirono denounced President Trump’s decision to decertify the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) — a 2015 accord whereby the Obama administration (and the governments of five other nations) had agreed to allow the Islamist regime in Tehran to enrich uranium, build advanced centrifuges, purchase ballistic missiles, fund terrorism, and be guaranteed of a near-zero breakout time to the construction of a nuclear bomb approximately a decade down the road. “In making the dangerous, political decision to decertify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, Donald Trump is jeopardizing our national security by undermining the harsh restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program established by JCPOA,” Hirono stated.
In December 2017, less than a year into Trump’s presidency, Hirono — in light of renewed allegations by three women claiming that Trump had inappropriately fondled or groped them years earlier — called for the president to step down from office: “[T]he only way to stop this president that has a narcissistic need for attention — he’s a misogynist and admitted sexual predator and a liar — the only thing that will stop him from attacking us — because nobody is safe — is his resignation.”
In January 2018, Hirono accused Trump of racism after the president had reportedly asked, during a White House meeting with a handful of U.S. senators, why the United States was accepting immigrants from “sh**hole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador, and certain nations in Africa. On CNN’s New Day, Hirono said: “He made clear that … he wants, basically, [only] white people to come to our country.”
During a May 22, 2018 interview on MSNBC, Hirono suggested that Trump’s mindset was akin to that of a totalitarian dictator: “The difference between a democracy and a totalitarian government is the rule of law. So, you have a president, Trump, who has attacked the media. He’s gone after judges who don’t agree with him. He’s certainly going after the intelligence community, the FBI, the Department of Justice. And these are the kinds of actions taken by people like Erdogan in Turkey, Duterte in the Philippines, and, of course, Putin in Russia — all three dictators, basically. The president very much admires them. So, the rule of law, with regard to this president, is of no consequences [sic]. He does not respect the rule of law.”
On October 7, 2018, CNN’s Dana Bash asked Hirono to comment on recent incidents where leftist/Democrat protesters had harassed Republican officials in restaurants and at their own homes. The senator replied: “I think that it just means that there are a lot of people who are very, very much motivated about what is going on….” When Bash, not having received a direct answer, again asked if protesters should “be going after people at restaurants,” Hirono said: “Well, this is what happens, because when you look at white supremacists and all that, this is what’s coming forth in our country, there’s a tremendous divisiveness in our country. But this is the kind of activism that occurs and people make their own decisions. If they violate the law, then they have to account for that.”
In December 2018, Hirono joined fellow Senator Kamala Harris in challenging President Trump’s nomination of Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court for Nebraska because the judge belonged to the Knights Of Columbus (KOC), the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, which the two lawmakers characterized as an “extreme” entity. The senators’ bone of contention was the fact that KOC affirms traditional Catholic teaching on issues such as marriage, sexuality, and abortion. Both senators pressured Buescher to resign from KOC. Hirono, for her part, claimed that KOC’s “extreme positions” should oblige Buescher to recuse himself from any case in which the aforementioned issues were involved.
In September 2019, Hirono reacted vocally after The New York Times printed an article about a newly published book about Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s 2018 Supreme Court nominee. Written by the book’s authors, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, the Times piece noted that the book – titled The Education of Brett Kavanaugh – discussed allegations in which a woman named Deborah Ramirez, who had been a Yale University classmate of Kavanaugh more than 30 years earlier, claimed that a drunken Kavanaugh had once exposed his penis to her during a campus party. The article further reported that another “former classmate,” Max Stier, claimed to have personally seen the incident in question. But the article never mentioned Stier’s deep ties to the Democratic Party – i.e., he had donated to a number of Democrat candidates and causes, and he had worked for President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, while Kavanaugh was a member of special prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s investigation team which looked into Clinton’s misconduct in office. Nor did the article mention that Ramirez had refused to be interviewed about the alleged incident; that all three of the friends whom she had identified as witnesses steadfastly maintained that it never occurred; and that all three friends had stated that not even Ramirez herself could recall the incident.
Despite the paucity of evidence against Kavanaugh, Hirono said in a statement: “Brett Kavanaugh should never have been confirmed to the Supreme Court. It was plain to me and many others at the time that the FBI ‘investigation’ into the serious, corroborated allegations of sexual assault by Justice Kavanaugh was a sham. New reporting from the New York Times further proves it…. The House Judiciary Committee should immediately begin an impeachment inquiry to determine whether Justice Kavanaugh lied to Congress and why the FBI wasn’t permitted to investigate all credible allegations against him.”
During a July 13, 2020 interview on MSNBC, Hirono derided President Trump’s supporters as a very large pack of racists and bigots: “We should be dealing with the racism that is in our country, to which the president speaks to because he has a base of supporters who are very anti-immigrant and white supremacists. That’s a lot of his base, and he speaks to, so the divisiveness continues.”
On August 4, 2020, Hirono had a contentious exchange with Republican Senator Ted Cruz during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence.” The main subject of the hearing was the escalating level of anti-police rioting that the Marxist/anarchist Antifa movement had been perpetrating ever since the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being physically abused by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Whereas Cruz emphasized that “the rioters …. destroy minority communities, minority businesses and minority lives across this country” and thus “must be stopped,” Hirono played a video of what she described as federal law-enforcement agents’ use of disproportionate force and violence against supposedly peaceful protesters. She further suggested that the hearing should have been titled “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble without Being Beaten up by Unidentifiable Federal Agents,” adding: “That would address an actual problem lawful protesters are facing and the rest of us are seeing in this country.”
When Senator Cruz, who chaired the August 4 hearing, denounced Democrats for not condemning Antifa’s violence more directly, Hirono said to him: “Sometimes I don’t think you listen. So, how many times have I had to say that we all should be denouncing violent extremists of every stripe?” “Does that include Antifa?” asked Cruz, prompting Hirono to respond: “I have the time…. I hope this is the end of this hearing, Mr. Chairman, and that we don’t have to listen to any more of your rhetorical speeches. Thank you very much. I’m leaving.” As Hirono departed from the hearing before Cruz had adjourned the session, Cruz said to her: “You’re welcome to say something negative about Antifa right now.” Hirono replied as she exited the room: “I think that I’ve covered the subject quite well.”
For an overview of Hirono’s voting record on an array of key issues, click here.