The celebration at Hawaii Republican Party headquarters was barely 15 minutes old as Charles Djou, the GOP’s newest darling, had already moved past the historic victory and turned his sights toward the general election in November.
“I know there are going to be pundits out there who are going to try to minimize the significance of tonight’s election,” Djou told a crowd of jubilant supporters after winning the special election to fill the vacancy in Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.
“These pundits are going to say the only reason this evening occurred is because of unique political circumstances,” he added. “These pundits are going to tell you to ignore the results of what happened here tonight. We’re here to tell them they are wrong.”
Djou won with close to 40 percent of the vote in the mail-in special election, beating Democrats Colleen Hanabusa, with 31 percent, and Ed Case, 28 percent.
He now will head to Washington to take over Office 1502 in the Longworth Building, once occupied by Democrat Neil Abercrombie. The last of Abercrombie’s staff packed up last week.
“I congratulate Mr. Djou,” Abercrombie said in a statement. “Serving in the United States House of Representatives, for whatever period of time, is a great honor and an even greater responsibility.”
He added, “The majority of voters in the district supported Democratic candidates in this special election. I am confident that a Democrat will win the congressional race in the general election.”
The two Democrats also turned their eyes toward the party primary in September, as both vowed to continue the fight for the right to face Djou in a one-on-one vote in November.
The applause from Djou’s victory party could be heard six time zones away in Washington, D.C., where national party leaders trumpeted a victory on President Barack Obama’s home turf.
“I congratulate Charles Djou for his victory and a successful campaign based on the widely shared values of cutting spending, shrinking government and creating real, permanent American jobs,” said U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. “I have no doubt that Hawaii families will be well-represented in Congress as he joins our fight to return common sense economic policies and fiscal sanity to Washington.”
Although Djou emerged the victor, he still could be considered the underdog, as Hanabusa and Case combined for 59 percent.
Democrats will be looking to regroup and recapture the seat behind a single candidate in November.
The party will have to overcome a divide that many, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, blamed for handing the election to the GOP.
Yes. It’s called the “identity politics” divide. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving bunch.
While this victory is good news in the short term for the GOP, long term they do indeed have their work cut out for them as far as the November election in Hawaii is concerned, assuming that Democrats finally unite around one candidate. Still, on the upside, Doug Powers writes:
The top two Dems got 58% of the vote, so obviously the GOP still has their work cut out for them if they’re going to retain the seat in November, but the trend is assuring if you’re a Republican. In 2008, Obama won 70% of Hawaii’s 1st district, and McCain 20%. In that district’s House election in 2008, the Republican only received 17.4% of the vote. A Republican (and a conservative at that) now getting almost 40% of the vote in that district less than two years after “Hope & Change” swept in on promises of gumdrops, unicorns and rainbows for everyone can’t be very comforting to the DNC.
Even though the Democrats are going to cling to hanging on to Murtha’s seat and the fact that their voters were split between two candidates in Hawaii yesterday as evidence that voters aren’t turning on them, privately some of them are reaching for the Kaopectate.