May 23rd, 2010
03:18 AM ET

Democratic infighting gives GOP rare victory in Hawaii

Republican Charles Djou took advantage of an intra-party fight among Democrats to snatch a House seat that Democrats had held for 20 years in Hawaii.

Djou, a Honolulu city councilman, won 67,274 votes or 39.5 percent of those cast.

The special election was for the state's 1st congressional district, which opened up after 10-term Democratic lawmaker Rep. Neil Abercrombie stepped down earlier this year to concentrate full-time on his bid for Hawaii governor.

The seat includes Honolulu and some surrounding suburbs. President Obama, who spent parts of his childhood in the district, won 70 percent of the vote in the 2008 presidential election.

But there were two Democratic candidates on the ballot in this election and recent polls indicate they were splitting the vote.

The results, posted on the state's Office of Elections website late Saturday, proved likewise:

State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, considered the more liberal candidate, received 52,445 votes or 30.8 percent. She had been in third place in recent polls, but she refused to step aside.

Former Rep. Ed Case, considered the more moderate candidate, garnered 47,012 votes or 27.6 percent.

The special election was a winner-take-all contest, with only a plurality needed for victory.

National Democratic Party organizations favored Case but did not formally endorse either of their party's candidates.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ran ads that criticized Djou. But earlier this month, after it was clear neither candidate would drop out, the DCCC stopped spending any more money or time on the race.

Djou will have to defend the seat come November, and national Democrats are saving their firepower for that contest, when only one Democrat will be on the ballot.

"We're looking at November in Hawaii," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the DCCC chairman, told reporters Thursday. "I think you all know the situation, and it's important that people do understand the unique circumstances of a special election in Hawaii - you don't have a primary. You have, in this case, three candidates - two Democrats and one Republican. I can confidently predict that the Democrats together will get a majority of the vote. Just like the Democratic candidate in November will get a majority of the vote."

But a win for Djou in the special election was seen as a symbolic victory for the GOP.

"The fact that we have an opportunity to win in President Obama's childhood district where he received 70 percent of the vote in '08, speaks to the quality of Charles Djou's candidacy and the level of Republican voter intensity across the country," Ken Spain, NRCC communications director, said last week.

soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. CaDreamAmerica

    Both political parties have lost the middle road .....its either far left or far right......Moderates are leaving the world of politics in a wave...

    May 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. krehator

    Never would have seen a story like this on Fox if it were negative towards the GOP. Which network is more biased again?

    May 23, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lance

    throw the tax and waste liberals out !

    May 23, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Iveeno

    First Massachusettes, then Hawaii – both bastions of Liberality. Harry Reid is in no good shape in Nevada, either. A foretaste of the things to come?

    May 23, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • MadeinHawaii

      "a foretaste of the things to come?" yea right. perhaps you should know that this candidate won with 39% of the vote. He would have lost by 20% had he run head to head with one of the Dem challengers. Don't even dream of Hawaii having a permanent Republican.

      May 23, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MadeinHawaii

    Haha. Yes, Charles Djou has won. But that doesn't mean squat. If it was one Democrat vs one Republican, Djou would have got his butt kicked back to the little hole in the ground where he came from. So enjoy your 6 mos Djou, because Hawaii is gonna send you packing. So all you Republicans please don't make this victory more than it is... which basically is nothing. But because the majority of Republicans these days believe everything they hear from Fox news, well, I guess you will believe what you want to believe.

    May 23, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. steve

    I told you Marxist SOB's we are on the way and you have not seen nothing yet so kiss my tea bagger @SS!

    May 23, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mark

    An interesting case, but a unique one. The Republican Party shouldn't read too much into this election. They can't rely on the rest of the nation being involved in a three way, winner-takes-all, deadlocked election. Had the Democratic candidates found some way to compromise, this would have been close to 60% to 40% in their favor.

    May 23, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Fernando Medina

    It's the Best News i ever heard/read through CNN, THANK YOU HAWAII.....

    May 23, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Michael

    Well he held that seat long

    NOT. This conservative fell in 2010. So much for the right wing Republican conservative in Hawaii

    November 11, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
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