Hawaii Special Election Today… Republican Charles Djou Leading Dem Rivals
If Charles Djou wins Saturday against two Democrats who seem to be splitting their party’s vote, he will be Hawaii’s first Republican congressman in decades.
Obama, who was born in Hawaii, carried the state with 72 percent of the vote in the presidential election just two years ago. But prominent Democrats acknowledge the possibility of losing the seat on Saturday.
“Yeah,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said simply when asked this week if his organization is writing off the special election…
“I think the people of Hawaii are learning, just as the American people are learning, that we do not have to follow the marching orders of the old boy network and the establishment,” Djou said this week in a TV interview. “This congressional campaign is an opportunity for the voters of Hawaii to say, we own this seat, not the Democratic Party.”
Hanabusa, Djou and Case are the most well-known among 14 candidates seeking the seat from which longtime Democratic Rep. Neal Abercrombie resigned in late February to run for governor. Abercrombie has remained neutral in the congressional contest.
Voters who received ballots in the all-mail election almost three weeks ago have until Saturday to return them. While trailing in the polls, Hanabusa and Case and their supporters remain hopeful.
The two Democrats are splitting their party’s votes in a district where Abercrombie has won 10 general elections since 1990 with an average tally of 62 percent.
Case, a moderate Democrat who represented the 2nd Congressional District from late 2002 through 2006, remains scorned by Hawaii’s senior Sen. Daniel Inouye and much of the state’s Democratic establishment for unsuccessfully challenging the 2006 re-election of the state’s junior senator, Daniel Akaka.
“This election is a referendum on change for a stagnant political culture right here at home,” Case, in a veiled reference to party regulars, said in a final debate last week.
Those leaders are backing the more liberal Hanabusa. Despite universal support from Hawaii’s powerful labor unions, she has struggled in voter polls.
Voter turnout in the special election to fill Hawaii’s vacancy in Congress has already topped 50 percent. Results are expected to be announced shortly after today’s 6 p.m. deadline to get ballots in to the state Office of Elections.