Mazie Hirono

  • U.S. Senate
  • Hawai'i

Born in Fukushima, Japan, Sen. Mazie Hirono is the only naturalized citizen currently serving in the U.S. Senate, and she is running for reelection to continue her outstanding career of public service. After spending the first few years of her life living on her grandparents’ rice farm, she moved to the United States when she was almost eight years old, after her mother made the decision to escape from her abusive marriage to Hirono’s father, taking Hirono and her brother across the Pacific Ocean to Hawai‘i with all of the family’s possessions packed into one suitcase. In Hawai‘i, her mother worked as a typesetter for a Japanese-language newspaper during the day and for a catering company at night, while the family lived in a rented room at a boarding house, sleeping sideways to share one bed. Hirono started elementary school in Hawai‘i before she could read or speak English and helped earn money to cover her school lunches by working as a student cashier at her elementary school and cover other family expenses by delivering newspapers after school. After graduating from high school, Hirono worked her way through college at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and through law school at Georgetown, moving back to Hawai‘i after finishing her degrees to work as an attorney. In 1980, she successfully ran for a seat in the Hawai‘i House of Representatives, where she served until 1994, when she was elected as the state’s lieutenant governor. In 2006, Hirono was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives after winning a highly-contested, 10-way primary for the Democratic nomination with the early support of EMILYs List. In 2012, Hirono ran for the U.S. Senate and won, becoming the first woman ever to represent her home state in the Senate and the first Asian American woman ever to serve in that chamber.