Djou Owes It All To Abercrombie

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - June 02, 2010
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi administers the oath of office to Charles Djou as his wife Stacey and daughters Victoria and Alexandra look on

Charles Djou should put former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie on his Christmas card mailing list for the gift he gave by resigning his office to run for governor. If Abercrombie had not, Djou would not be the representative of the 1st Congressional District of Hawaii.

Don’t get me wrong. Djou won this special election as his own man, with his own record and his own dedication and hard work. He also defeated two incredibly worthy opponents. Yes, the fact that former U.S. Rep. Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa split the vote is significant. But it’s not the only thing.

Obviously, Abercrombie’s resignation from Congress opened the proverbial door for Djou. Why the resignation to begin with? I maintain that part of the reason is Abercrombie, being an astute politician, saw the proverbial writing on the wall and chose to head home instead of risking his seat in a brawl with Djou. Clearly, the anti-incumbent sentiment has been building across America and Abercrombie may have looked at the shenanigans of the Obama White House and concluded even he couldn’t win his own seat. The rash of unpopular policies such as TARP, Cash for Clunkers, auto bailout, cap and trade, and health care reform coupled with big Democrat losses in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts was enough for a 73-year-old warhorse to say “pau already.”


OK, that’s speculation. But are we to believe that Abercrombie simply wanted to end the commute from Hades in going back and forth to D.C.? He enjoyed substantial seniority and as member of the House Armed Services Committee and chairman of the Land and Forces subcommittee, and wielded some influence, too. Another term would have ratcheted up his profile that, I would imagine with a Democrat administration, would hold some sway. Maybe it was the chance to mix it up with his nemesis in the 1986 congressional election that Abercrombie lost. His primary opponent? Mufi Hannemann.

The genuine congratulations and praise must be reserved for the now former City Councilman Charles Djou and his entire team. With the exception of a prescient early declaration of victory, this was a nearly flawless campaign. His message of opposition to President Obama’s policies and his highlighting Case’s and Hanabusa’s alliances to this administration did resonate with local voters. And, if there is one thing about Djou, he’s consistent. His opposition to tax hikes is legendary and he has the record to back it up. When he says he knows that every dollar that goes to the government comes from every family, we believe him. He is bright, young, articulate, a family man and truly is the personification of the anti-status quo movement.

However, his next test will be in the November general election, where he will likely face either Case or Hanabusa heads up.

It’s been a long time since Hawaii was a relevant part of the national political landscape. But look for this victory to be invoked by every pundit from the right to the left. This is a remarkable win. Who would have thought a Republican would win Democrat President Obama’s home district? Not many. Although this is one victory for one congressional seat, it’s a victory that has the potential of changing the political course of America for the better.


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