How Republican Charles Djou Won in Hawaii

The state's first GOP Congressman in 20 years

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Hawaiin Charles Djou has become the state's first Republican Congressman in 20 years after winning 39.7 percent of the special election's vote. Democrats Colleen Hanabusa and Ed Case won 31 and 27.8 percent of the vote. The district includes President Obama's Hawaii hometown. How did Djou do it and what does it mean?

  • The Strange Election  The Honolulu Star-Bulletin's B.J. Reyes gives the back story. "Former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie announced in December plans to resign his seat to concentrate solely on his campaign for governor, setting off a special election campaign unlike any in state history. By the time he formally resigned Feb. 28, the field of three main contenders had formed and the Office of Elections -- after openly considering whether to postpone the vote until the September primary to save money -- settled on a mail-in process at the cost of about $1 million."
  • How Dems Lost This  The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza explains, "Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou (R) entered election day as the favorite despite the fact that President Barack Obama took 70 percent in this district during the 2008 campaign. National Democrats ceased spending money to win the seat last week after concluding a win was nearly impossible as neither former Rep. Ed Case (D) nor state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D) heeded calls to end their candidacy and stop splitting the Democratic vote."
  • Why Djou Won't Last The Year  Doug Mataconis predicts, "But for the fact that there were two Democrats in the race, Djou clearly would’ve lost. This is a district that went for President Obama 70%-28% in the 2008 Election, and for it’s then-incumbent Democratic Congressman 77%-19%. With numbers like these, it’s hard to believe that Djou will be quite as fortunate come November." Djou will have to run again in the regularly-scheduled November election, just six months away.
  • ...How He Might  The Weekly Standard's John McCormack suggests, "Conventional wisdom holds that Djou will lose this seat in the fall when there won't be two Democratic candidates splitting the Democratic vote. But I wouldn't be so sure that Djou can't boost his share of the vote from 39.5% in a three-way race to 50.1% in a head-to-head match up. It's not clear that Hawaii Dems will easily unify behind one candidate (the primary is September 18). And Djou will have six months as an incumbent to get to know voters better. He's certainly an appealing candidate"
  • Djou Explains His Platform  The now-Congressman tells the Washington Post, "I've centered my whole campaign on my approach to fiscal responsibility and government accountability, and I think that's resonating with the electorate, even here in Hawaii. ... For a long time, there's been a feeling that this seat is wholly owned by the Democratic Party. I have been hitting hard on the theme that this is not a seat that is owned by any political party or union or special interest group. This is a seat owned by the people."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.