Djou a true test for GOP

Republicans have had little success in Hawai’i’s big political races in the last 50 years and the few who have succeeded, such as Pat Saiki and Linda Lingle, did it by downplaying party affiliation and stressing moderation.

U.S. Rep. Charles Djou is trying a different way by wearing his conservatism on his sleeve in his run for re-election to a full term against Democratic state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa.

It’ll be an interesting test of whether the mainland-style Republican brand can sell in Hawai’i even under the most favorable conditions.

Djou won the special election to fill the last few months of Neil Abercrombie’s term against a Democratic vote that was split between Hanabusa and Ed Case.

Still, the 40 percent of the vote he pulled was impressive and if he holds that in the general election, he doesn’t need that many disgruntled Case voters to get over the top.

The customary political move in this heavily Democratic state would be to moderate himself to win over Case’s constituency of moderate Democrats and independents.

But he’s done the opposite, seeking out opportunities to be visible in promoting the Tea Party line on economic stimulus, financial reform, tax breaks for the wealthy and extension of unemployment benefits — giving Democrats a clear record to shoot at.

Whether you agree with him or not, you’ve got to give Djou some credit for having the courage of his convictions.

Lingle broke new ground by winning as a Republican. If Djou pulls it off, his new ground would be winning as a Republican who unabashedly acts like one.

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24 Comments on “Djou a true test for GOP”

  1. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Every person I know who voted for Ed Case whether for the State House, Governor, Second Congressional District, US Senator, or First Congressional District – and that figure has to be well over a thousand by now – would never, ever vote for any Republican except perhaps maybe Cynthia Thielen.

    These folks may be moderate, but they still believe that the government has a valued & viable role in our lives and that paying taxes is a necessity for government services. They are not NoNos nor teaparty types.

    There is no way that they will vote for Charles Djou. If they cannot handle Colleen, they will skip over the race.

    How important a factor is the NOTA vote in this race? Probably fairly significant – that’s what happened in the Bainum/Hannemann race in 2004. From time to time, I wonder what would have happened had Duke B. won that race by keeping his fairly significant lead from the Primary into the General. Would Mufi had gone up against Linda in 2006? Gone for the Second Congressional District race also that year?

    If the wounds from the Special Election aren’t healed by the time Nov. 2 rolls around, I expect that maybe a third will vote NOTA and the rest will vote for Colleen. That could indeed make the race too close to call at this time.

    Therefore, Colleen & Ed along with their key supporters have to be seen and heard from one end of the district to the other.

    The outcome of that race is more important than any other this year.

  2. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ~
    Why is Djou a TRUE TEST for the GOP? Is this an example how low the bar is set for their ranks? He may be a TEST for the GOP to see if they can win while continuing not to tell America the TRUTH. Is this what you mean, David?

    For example, David writes, “… you’ve got to give Djou some credit for having the courage of his convictions.”

    I believe Sarah Palin refers to this type of courage as cojones.

    Yet cojones are no substitute for sound policy, science and facts. The last major public figure to lead by the courage of his convictions was GW Bush. Although Bush’s cojones were responsible for the U.S. war in Iraq, there was an absence of evidence to support his FALSE claims that Saddam had WMDs – we’ve lost thousands of heroic troops, wasted over a TRILLION dollars and are left with quagmires in two military theaters.

    Woohoo for the Courage of Cojones!!!

    The reality is Charles Djou wants to TEST and see if Hawai’i’s voters can be similarly duped.

    On the one hand, Djou claims to be a deficit hawk. On the other, he wants to EXTEND the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 for the MOST RICH, which will ADD about $700 BILLION to our national debt and do little for growth. He obstructs legislation that will bring needed assistance to millions of long-term unemployed American workers yet fights so the MOST RICH can continue their luxurious ways.

    Conservative/Republican supply-side economics and free market capitalism hypotheses claim deregulation and lower taxes will lead to a Utopian existence for the masses. Thus, we’ve slashed our Top Marginal Federal Tax Rates from 90% during WWII/Great Depression to around 35% today.

    Taxes have fallen to historic lows and our regulatory framework looks like Swiss cheese due to all the loopholes. Facing trillions in national debt, collapsing states and cities, and millions without adequate work, I believe facts on the ground have proven these claims to be Goofball schemes as well.

    For the record, Alan Greenspan, a key architect in these flawed designs, has admitted his errors. There’s nothing wrong with bright people making mistakes. I respect Greenspan for acting with the kuleana to speak honestly about his failures. Sadly, Charles Djou displays neither intelligence nor acts with kuleana.

    So much for ARTIFICIALLY ENLARGED cojones!


  3. ppcc Says:

    According the latest Gallup polls Obama has a 48% DISAPPROVAL rating and a 45% approval rating so it appears less and less Americans are buying Obama’s constant blame of his failed stimulus and other policies on Bush-2 and the Republicans. Given the way things are going and more people are becoming disenfranchised with Obama and his message “change we can believe in”. Doesn’t look good that Obama will get a 2nd term. Also just in the news the Obama administration wants to create a backdoor policy to allow amnesty for up to 700,000 illegal immigrants who attend school. Nice way for Obama to try to gain 700K new voters to vote for him in 2012.

    Given the majority, and an increasing number of Americans want to end Obama’s out of control tax and spend policies, why would Hawaii elect another rubber stamp for Obama like Hirono? Djou is definitely not perfect but at least he has some semblance of free will we he makes decision in Congress on behalf of Hawaii residents.

  4. Peter Kay Says:

    Dave I would go so far as to say this is more than just a test for the GOP. I believe it’s a test to see if Hawaii’s socially tolerant electorate is also fiscally liberal.

    Recent polls showing Charles up by 8 seem to support that whereas Hawaii might be socially tolerant, it’s fiscally conservative.

    Ed was much closer to Charles than he was Colleen. It seems that his supporters are breaking the same way.

    Of course, the extremes on both sides of the spectrum won’t vote for the other side regardless of the circumstances but thankfully the great majority of the voters go for the person and not the party. See “Linda Lingle” as proof.

  5. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ppcc ~
    While telephone polls are somewhat suspect since young people are hard to reach by phone (they are more liberal), you FORGOT to mention this sample has a +/- 3% margin of error. This means Gallup’s poll suggests an equal divide – of course, typical to fashion, conservatives prefer to deceive.

    You wrote, “… and an increasing number of Americans want to end Obama’s out of control tax and spend policies.”

    REALLY? Do you truly believe the majority of Americans want to RETURN to Republican borrow and spend policies that favor the MOST RICH? Twenty-eight years has taught all we need to know.

    That’s a bigger joke than Djou’s cojones. Mahalo for the laugh though!


  6. Michael Says:

    looks like GOP will be sending palin to the frontline.
    lingle as vice president. If gravitas don’t make lingle fall down to Earth. Purgatory must be upside down. lingles legacy will rise. I should refubiate on this.

    Don’t Djou love it?

    On the serious side, President Obama will win a second term. He has to finish what he started.
    Faith seems to make it unlikely but if Heaven is right side up, Why Not? He can rise to the occasion or fall down with gravity as lingle does.

  7. ppcc Says:

    Aloha Scott:
    I would agree with the previous Republican administration under Bush-2 not only started a war in Iraq under false pretenses (ie make believe weapons of mass destruction, trying to tie in Iraq with Sept 11, etc) but also began the road to out of control spending.

    However the next Republican presidential candidate such as Mitch Romney and Bobby Jindal as vice president will NOT make the same mistake and are already running on the campaign of fiscal responsibility on the national level.

    Regarding Sarah Palin or Linda Lingle on the national level they will not become serious contenders in the Presidential/Vice presidential election for 2012 as the Republican party knows that they carry too much baggage, especially Palin. Once Palin quit her job as Gov as Alaska, and became a paid commentator, that was the end of a legitimate bid for her to become president. That and the issue of her daughter having a baby out of wedlock and then having her on/off relationship with that loser Levi Johnston. The Republicans will not make the same mistake with trying to put a female on the ticket as McCain tried. They will more likely go with Bobby Jindahl who has shown leadership in Louisiana and is ethnic (I don’t know what ethnicity he is but I don’t think he is Caucasian). Regardless, Obama will NOT get a second term as the majority of independents that formerly supported him and allowed him his victory over McCain, will vote for any Republican to get him out of office.

  8. ppcc Says:


    I would agree with (YOU THAT) the previous Republican administration under Bush-2 not only started a war in Iraq under false pretenses (ie make believe weapons of mass destruction, trying to tie in Iraq with Sept 11, etc) but also began the road to out of control spending.

  9. Jeff201 Says:

    Obama is much more popular in Hawaii than he is in most other states which is why the Republican strategy of bashing Obama is not going to work.

    BTW I don’t believe that poll that shows Djou up by 8 that was his own internal poll, the same polling firm showed Aiona up in the gubernatorial race when all other polls have showed him losing by double digits to either Democrat in the race.

  10. Michael Says:

    I stand corrected: word is Refudiate.

    “‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!” Sarah Palin.
    My comment was a, To be or Not To be, that is the Question?

    Jindahl will have his birth certificate questioned.
    Jindahl is Indian America. Too young.
    Too inexperienced in dealing with a Nation of people not just a State. New York ex-mayor ran but lost. He was good in only being Mayor. President Obama is questioned mainly on his Race not what he does. republicans will not work together with democrats. President Obama has asked for Bipartisan help but it was denied. Mouse fights alone.

  11. Michael Says:

    Sorry for side stepping topic.

    Djou if re-elected if he can work
    with Democrats, then it is a start of
    a New Era for America. Unite again
    and not be divided. Let the Civil
    War come to an end.

  12. Kolea Says:

    ppcc offers Obama’s current approval rating as evidence he will have difficulty in winning a second term. The Gallup site he linked to provides a wealth ofdata, so why didn’t he take the time to look further?

    For example, we learn that conservative icon Ronald Reagan had lower approval ratings at the same point into his administration as Obama (41% vs 45%). Bill Clinton had an approval rating of 43%. Yet both presidents won re-election. Hmmm.

    So let’s test the predictive value of the data in reverse: George HW Bush (the daddy) had the HIGHEST approval ratings of any recent president at this same point (74%!). But, oh my(!), he LOST his re-election campaign.

    Silly data!

  13. Kolea Says:

    Peter Kay and I have had exchanges about Djou’s campaign before on these pages. I give him credit for being a clear-sighted Republican, which is a rare thing in today’s political climate.

    Peter is helping Djou with his messaging, so I think I will hold off from engaging in any sort of discussion which might improve his already considerable political acumen.

    Please take that as a compliment, Peter!

  14. WooWoo Says:


    Peter is certainly an astute individual, in both political and other realms.

    With the utmost respect to you and Hipoli and Cap/Doc, from an electoral standpoint your views on Djou are irrelevant. You were never going to vote for any candidate with an R next to their name anyway. As Peter points out, it is the independent voter that Djou and Hanabusa need to fight over.

    In this realm, the only detailed polling data I have seen (since I am a nobody, I only see what’s in the papers) is from a May 2nd article in the HA.

    The article has a link to a pdf. In late april, the numbers among self-identified independents were 42-29-11 (Djou-Case-Hanabusa). The second data point is, of course, the special election itself. Yes, the two dems split a certain amount of the vote, but Djou had to attract a large amount of independents to win. You can’t get elected dogcatcher in this town based on republican voters only.

    Djou having to report to work uku-billion miles away was a potential weak spot for Hanabusa to exploit. However, it seems as if she has failed to take advantage of this. I had an unspoken fear that the advantages of incumbency for Djou would be negated by a vigorous grassroot campaign on the part of Hanabusa. I have not seen this at all.

    As Dave pointed out, Djou has made his views very clear. His votes have been consistent with his campaign pledges (and his voting record at the City Council). It is hard to imagine what kind of negative surprise the Hanabusa campaign is praying for. The voters have gotten what was advertised: a fiscal conservative.

    It appears that the Hanabusa campaign leadership is running the only play that local democrats know: accuse the opponent of being a republican. When that fails to work, they don’t have plan B since plan A works 99 times out of 100 in this state.

    Certainly Hanabusa has shown herself to be highly skilled in a caucus room knife-fight. But she also has never beaten a real candidate in an election. She has shown no gift for connecting with Joe Voter, nor does she fire up campaign staff the way people like Mufi and Neil can. With the crowded slate of candidates, I think she will be hard pressed to keep a core of excited supporters. If I were a democrat, I would spend my donated hours supporting a lot of other candidates before her.

    At this point, I say 70/30 Djou keeps his seat.

  15. Charles is in place and he’s on two of the most important committees. He’s an intelligent man and an astute politician. I don’t agree with some of his policies, especially on social issues, but the question is: what can he do for his state and the people he represents?

    His showing in the May election was strong enough for him to stand his ground on his conservative issues. wavering would weaken him with his locked down constituency. There will be ample time for him to make compromises that he must make as a member of the House.

    Charles’s measure has been taken by his fellow representatives and they have respect. He could bring some sanity to the Republican Party, which is badly needed at this point.

    There’s room for a well crafted statement of traditional Republican ideas in the House and in the Senate. Barack Obama thinks so. Obama was not as liberal as we thought he was, and Djou is not as conservative as we think he is.

  16. hipoli Says:

    WooWoo: Youre 100% wrong about me – that I would never vote for an R.

    I will never vote for an R so long as they are in bed with the churches.

    Get rid of the bible-zombies and then we can have a conversation.

  17. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    WooWoo – I did vote a Republican one time – the late State Senator Mary George because her Democratic opponent was staunchly anti-choice – and a message had to be sent loud`nclear that Democrats could not and should not ever back away from our platform. If you can handle it, cross over to the other side of the poltical spectrum.

    Similarly, I would vote for Cynthia Thielen were I to live in her district.

    However, I would rather vote for Rod Tam than Charles Djou in any race at any level of government.

    I’ve been tracking Djou since 2000 when he ran for the State House in Kane`ohe/Kahalu`u against the incumbent by using scurrilous, unethical & immoral campaign tactics although he actually did nothing illegal. However, it made me decide that whatever he did and wherever he went, he would not be able to escape from me – until I shuffed off this mortal coil.

    After his district was “disappeared” out to West O`ahu, he moved to Hawaii Kai to run for the City Council. The man is coated with Teflon and, despite his horrible legislative record and personal stances on social justice issues, seems to be able to convince voters that he’s a nice guy who’ll represent their interests from whatever legislative body he happens to be drawing a paycheck.

  18. Kolea Says:


    Not sure what you mean about my views on Djou being irrelevant. If you want to light a fire under my okole, I think I can actually change a few votes in that race. But it would take something more to inspire me than my love for Colleen.

    The percentage of times when I would vote for a Republican approaches zero. Though, like Cap?Up, if I lived in Kailua I might vote for Cynthia. I know here and like her. If all Republicans were as smart, principled and decent as Cynthia, we would be moving towards a competitive, two-party political system here. Something I would welcome, so long as the GOP were not dominated by loons and meanspirited rightists.

    I think the race in November is Djou’s to lose. Don’t know if I would set the odds at 70/30. Maybe more like 60/40. Tell you what, have Malia Zimmerman get it touch with her apocryphal “Chinatown bookie” and let us know what the odds are down there, OK?

    I dispute that Djou is a “fiscal conservative,” unless we allow ideologues to twist the meaning of the phrase for their purposes. I would suggest a “fiscal conservative” would be a “deficit hawk” and NOT simply someone who believes in cutting taxes for the wealthy. Djou has cast some votes which would not go over well in Hawaii if the Hanabusa campaign/Democrats were paying attention. His vote about a week ago to not fund healthcare for “first responders” who have suffered as a result of their selfless rescue efforts at Ground Zero on 911 would be unacceptable IF anyone were paying attention.

    I expect there WILL be some debate between the Obama plan to preserve tax cuts for most Americans while allowing those for the wealthiest 2% to lapse. (I know you folks will work to spin that, but it is an uphill fight. But again, Hanabusa and the Democrats are AWOL.)

  19. shaftalley Says:

    i think hawaii and the mainland will face a bankruptcy.i think our nation will face default sooner or later.huge,huge debts,deficit spendings,increased regulations.let’s look at the fundementals:the feds have been printing money and borrowing massively over a decade.we have gone from a creitor nation to a debtor nation.when the feds made cash cheap,remember the bubble?then real-estate bubble?financial bubble?and now a bubble is forming in the 20+yr. Treasury bills.interest rates near zero.the us gov’ STILL adding new spending programs(ObamaCare,homebuyers tax credits,extended jobless benefits,more war funding for our empire,etc,etc)and more regulations(from unelected officials from epa,sec,ftc,irs etc,etc)and 1099’s for small transactions,bank taxes.ten years ago,we had a budget surplus nationally.also ten years ago, gold was at $279/ it’s around $1800/oz.but the difference is:the high price of gold IS NOT A is a fundemental truth:people are seeking it out for suggestion is to buy the political climate changes and our gov’t(state and fed) stops this madness,it will destroy our society and destroy our future generations to come.the democrat/republican party has turned our country into a welfare/warfare unholy’s still not too late to save gold now!

  20. David Shapiro Says:

    Sometimes you folks really impress me with sharp analysis from many angles. I take away a lot more insight from this thread than I brought to it.

  21. WooWoo Says:

    Well how about we have a kumbaya moment and agree that this would be a much better state if we had a lot more Cynthia Thielens around?

  22. Peter Kay Says:

    @kolea mahalo for the kind words!

    @volcanicash I’m really encouraged by the dialog on this post.

    Somebody needs to start a .com to handle local, small-kine bets on stuff li dis. Would be so much fun to actually ask folks to put money down on their predictions, online.

    Until then, I’m looking forward to lots more good discussions. Special thanks to @volcanicash for setting the discussion agenda. Keep it up Dave, we need your wisdom here!

  23. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ppcc ~
    You wrote, However the next Republican presidential candidate such as Mitch Romney and Bobby Jindal as vice president will NOT make the same mistake and are already running on the campaign of fiscal responsibility on the national level.

    HaHa! Fiscal responsible??? Mitt Romney championed the Massachusetts medical insurance reform as governor but opposed it nationally because Obama was at the helm. He doesn’t know what side his bread is buttered on.

    Jindal initially refused federal Recovery Act money – but cried like a baby when the feds appeared not to be “saving his state” from the BP Gulf disaster. He talks tough until times are tough. Then, he sticks his hand out like everyone else.

    Republicans do not know how to be fiscally responsible. How could they? One can’t stand for massive tax cuts while demanding to be the premiere world military superpower and caring for people at home. The numbers simply don’t add up!

    This is why Republicans are forced to lie … true conservatism is Social Darwinistic – the strong survive; the market dictates the winners and losers.

    Yet modern people – in all nations – will not tolerate much losing. The masses demand safety nets.

    Thus, Republicans must morph into “Compassionate Conservatives” and this sends fiscal responsibility out da winda.

    This has been the 20-year pattern under Reagan, GHW Bush and Bush Jr. Let’s not even talk about Socialist Richard Nixon who imposed PRICE CONTROLS!!! Now, that’s serious fiscal responsibility. HaHa!


  24. zzzzzz Says:

    @ppcc–Aren’t we all ethnic?

    As one datum, I don’t belong to any party, and I voted for Case. He’s one of the very few politicians here whose views come anywhere close to mine overall. I’m leaning toward Djou in November. His stance on gays in the military has helped push me toward him. Hanabusa’s torpedo job of HB444 also pushed me away from her.

    @hipoli, do you know of any heavy religious influences on Djou, or any inability on his part to separate church and government? So far, his message has seemed quite agnostic to me.

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