Candidates to voters: Take my wife … please

U.S. Rep. Charles Djou is the latest local pol to trot out his spouse to smite his foes, with his new TV spot featuring his attorney wife Stacey taking opponent Colleen Hanabusa and her supporters to task for besmirching her husband and the family name.

The Republican Djou is following several Democrats who preceded him down this path in the current election cycle — and he should take note that they all lost.

Ed Case, who finished third behind Djou and Hanabusa in the special election for the seat that Djou holds, was seldom pictured in campaign ads without his wife Audrey, and she got a TV spot of her own sticking up for her husband at the end of the campaign.

When Mufi Hannemann came under fire for a mailer that seemed to attack opponent Neil Abercrombie’s wife, Hannemann’s wife Gail shot a TV spot defending her man.

Kirk Caldwell mentioned his wife Donna Tanoue so often and featured her so prominently in his campaign literature that you would have thought she was the co-candidate.

The usual reason given for the tactic beyond ethnic appeal is to show the candidate’s softer side. But some of these guys need toughening more than softening, in my opinion, and having their wives fight their battles for them can backfire and make them look like wimps.

I’ve never seen the wife card played to this extent in any other market. Does anybody see an advantage that I’m missing to this Henny Youngman school of politics?

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17 Comments on “Candidates to voters: Take my wife … please”

  1. Richard Gozinya Says:

    The more I see of the ladies, the more I’d like to see them running for office while their hubbies stay home and cook rice.

  2. hipoli Says:

    Classic, Richard, classic.

    All I have to say is you don’t, and won’t, see Colleen’s husband having to stick up for his wife. She can handle that all by herself, thankyouverymuch.

  3. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Why? Racial/ethnic political strategy without being too gross.

    Saw the same thing in a State House District race here in Windward O`ahu. NOTE: Not ours, David.

    The candidate has a English first name, a Japanese middle name, and a Hispanic last name. On his signs, guess which one was about three times larger than the other two?

    When I suggested that perhaps he should go after the incumbent’s really junk record, the challenger said that it was more important to reach out to the incumbent’s base and to remind them that he was also one of them. He lost by a three to one factor.

    Getting back to the wife factor – personally, I like seeing photos of spouses/kids/parents/dogs/community members, etc. in ads. But having the wife be featured is just another way of saying: “Hey folks!!! See my good taste in selecting a mate!! Just imagine what I can do when it comes to selecting the head of the Chair of the Department of ____________ or the contracting company selected to build the six lane bridge between Lihue and Hilo.

    Actually, I’d really prefer to read about what Major League Baseball team the candidate is really passionate about or what his (sorry but this is an XX kind of thing) favorite character was on “Lost” or “The Office.”

  4. WooWoo Says:

    Not a big fan of the wife-centric ad in general. I have not seen the Djou ad so I can’t comment directly on it.

    Similar to CWD, I think that there is mileage to be gained in general by showing that a candidate has a spouse and children. Many voters interpret a candidate with a family as somebody that has an additional level of obligation and long-term commitment. Note that both Hanabusa and Mufi ran ads featuring lots of kids, despite not actually having any themselves. I’m not saying that I personally think that this makes a difference in commitment to future generations, but many voters do.

    Hipoli, you know full well that the reason why Hanabusa’s husband isn’t in any ads is not because she can handle things by herself. It’s because he’s had questionable dealings and associations in the past, and they want to make sure nobody goes looking in those closets.

    Every politician in every campaign has to play up their strengths and downplay their weaknesses. Djou has a young, attractive family. Hence, they are in his ads. Hanabusa has a shady husband. Hence, he is not in her ads.

  5. Gargoyle Says:

    Yes, where is Colleen’s husband? Is he at the Honolulu raceway with the acquitted Waianae toliet bomber? Is he busy selling more land to a member of the Pali shooter’s gang? Is he plumping for his former business associates at PVT? Maybe we should make him Sheriff again.

  6. ppcc Says:

    If I am not mistaken I think a post was deleted, I assume because of unfounded accusations. I am submitting a link from an article which appears based on verifiable facts regarding John Souza, husband of Hanabasa. If this post is seriously asking why Djou would proudly present his wife, people can come to their own conclusions regarding the issue of a candidate showcasing their spouse and family vs keeping their spouse out of the public eye:

    excerpt from this web page:
    “.. State Sheriff John F. Souza III has business ties with two convicted felons, one a former police officer recently released from federal prison, the other a Leeward Coast parolee whose home and other properties were searched last week by police and federal agents.

    Souza, a retired Honolulu police detective appointed head of the Sheriff Division in the Department of Public Safety last August by Gov. Linda Lingle, said yesterday the business relationships are innocent but he is thinking about resigning from office because “the appearance is bad.”

    Last year, Souza sold a seven-acre parcel of land in Makaha to Jonnaven Monalim, a state prison parolee whose ‘Ewa Beach residence was raided Friday by law enforcement agents investigating illegal gambling and other criminal activities.

    Souza, the fiancé of state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, D-21st (Nanakuli, Makaha), purchased the Makaha property in 2001 from Hanabusa and her family for $200,000 and sold it to Monalim in October 2003 for $225,000, according to real estate records…”

  7. hipoli Says:

    You all cant find the pukas on Colleen, now can you? Yeah. Thats right. Thats because shes the candidate who wears her own pants in her house. I have an idea – why dont you go after her mother next, too?

    Take a page from Mufi on what happens when you try to go after the spouse this campaign season. Stick with the candidates, Republican boys and girls.

  8. Payback Says:

    Well, there’s always Colleen’s ousting of attorney general Margery Bronster for going after Bishop Estate trustees, and Colleen’s house deal from Jeff Stone for carrying the water on his $75 million tax credit to talk about. Then there’s her laughable claim of cutting legislator salaries by 5% after raising them by 36%. Her husband John Souza is just icing on the cake.

    Remember, Colleen put her family like her mother (and her dog) and some her non-existent children out there to plug herself, so Souza’s absence is even more conspicuous and telling. As is her claim, “what you see is what you get.”. Don’t think Djou and the R’s aren’t going after these soft targets.

  9. charles Says:

    Last time I looked, Congress didn’t cut their salaries or their staff salaries or their office allowances. More telling, I haven’t heard that Djou voluntarily took cuts in all these areas.

    Did he?

  10. el guapo Says:

    Anyone who uses a family member to speak in a commercial is just lame and weak. Can’t find someone credible to speak on your behalf? Now when Lorraine Cayetano supported Ben’s opponent (can’t recall who it was), that really caught my attention and tells you how messy their divorce was.

  11. WooWoo Says:


    You “opened the door” on the issue of Hanabusa’s husband with your first post, so please don’t fault others for going there; you told us to go there on this thread.

    As far as “no pukas, “wears the pants” Hanabusa, please refresh my memory on how many times she has run for congress and lost? Is it 3 or 4 elections now?

    … I just typed out a long, drawn out message outlining all of the things I think Hanabusa is doing wrong in her campaign. Then I deleted it. No freebies from me for this race. If anybody from the campaign ever winds up reading this post, “Great job! Keep up the good work!”

  12. Michael Says:

    Djou seems to have a wife that is as capable as he is.
    It would seem in Asian families wives usually support their Husbands till death due they part. Sometimes hiding the fact, that thier husbands are not faithful.
    Djou has Asian Pride and just proud of his wife. I have not heard bad things said and it seems his wife is there to support her husband.

    As in any culture there is good and bad. Marriage should be private unless the husband is abusive or the wife plays around as well. This is Tabloid not News. News is what goes on outside the House. Bedroom doors should be shut. Public for need to know only.

  13. ppcc Says:


    The public in general is smart enough to differentiate what is an inappropriate personal attack with no basis in fact for the spouse of a political candidate versus verifiable negative legal, ethical or behavioral issues for a candidates spouse.

    Mufi’s personal attack on Neils wife was based solely on her race while the story of Bainum’s, Hemming’s and Hanabausa’s spouses are based on verifiable information. Note that Neil won over Mufi while Bainum lost and Hemmings refused to run again, mainly because of his wife’s problems. Was it not incredibly pathetic for Fred Hemmings to publicly state that the reason the AG went after his wife was because he was a politician, even though the AG pointed out Hemming’s wife had a PRIOR felony conviction and could have pleaded innocent at any time of the subsequent charges of stealing money from a non profit organization. If the charges were truly trumped out I bet the ACLU would have taken Hemming wife’s case pro bono.

    Regarding Hanabusa, others have clearly pointed out issues with Hanabusa and her husband but I did a quick search and found out that from Andrew Walden’s online article, former Governor Benjamin Cayetano had serious issues with Hanabusa. I have not read Cayetano’s memoir but others have mentioned it is a very informative read and when I have time will borrow it from the public library or purchase at the bookstore. Presenting Cayetano’s viewpoint is extremely relevant to this upcoming election cycle given Abercrombie has given Cayetano a prominent role in his bid to be the next Governor:

    Excerpt from Cayetano’s book: Ben a memoir from street kid to governor:

    “…Hanabusa had other reasons to oppose Bronster’s confirmation. (KSBE Trustee) Henry Peters and his influential mother, Hoaliku Drake, who had organized public demonstrations in opposition to Bronster’s confirmation, were both supporters who lived in her district. Politically, that alone would have been reason enough for her to vote against (Bronster). but, as the Honolulu Advertiser would later disclose, Hanabusa had a close relationship with developer Jeff Stone, whose sister was married to Bishop Estate trustee Dickie Wong and who, along with Peters and Wong had been indicted by a grand jury convened by Bronster. As the attorney general’s investigation would later reveal, prior to the confirmation hearing, Hanabusa had met privately with Larry Mehau and Wong. When confronted by a reporter, Hanabusa confirmed that the meeting had taken place, but, in a remarkable lapse of memory, she could not remember if Bronster’s confirmation had been discussed.”

    ” Why…did she {referring to Hanabusa} go to such extremes? … In March, 2004, the Honolulu Advertiser ran a story by investigative reporter Jim Dooley that revealed new facts exposing an undisclosed possible conflict of interest that Hanabusa had as a result of her relationship with Stone, who had also been one of the main figures in the State’s 1997-98 investigation of the Bishop Estate.”

    As I watched all of this {Cayetano referencing the 2002 debate}, I wondered if there were any legislators who had the guts to ask the hard questions. There was not a peep from the Democrats–or from conservative Republicans like Slom and Hemmings who had made careers in opposing social programs for the needy, or from young legislators who were learning quickly the politics of “going along to get along.” The only legislators who raised questions about the credibility of Stone’s claims were Republicans Charles Djou of O`ahu and Jim Rath of Kona, Hawai`i.

    As mentioned previously I have not read Cayetano’s memoir but after reading these passages it appears Abercrombie supporter and close ally Cayetano has respect for Djou but disdain but disdain for Hanabusa. How you “figgah”?

  14. hipoli Says:

    Ok, Woowoo, I’ll take that one. Its fair. I did inadvertently open this door. Time to close it.

    Seriously, if the best you all got for Djou is attacking her husband, you all really must be feeling the pressure. At a time when voters are looking seriously at the candidates, it shows your weakness (we’re losing, come on, lets go after that husband….yet again). Lame. Campaign on the merit of your candidate, will you? And if youre relying on Gov Ben, whose resurgence on the campaign scene has more recently taken a backseat because of push-back, I would tread carefully. We can all see that Hanabusa is inviting Djou all to take HER on, square on. And the voters are watching Djou for his most expected blink. Lets see if he can keep his fake-creepy-smile after shes done with him.

    Youre barking with the wrong bitch, boys.

  15. chocolateheart Says:

    Wow, Colleen Hanabusa has a full wardrobe of skeletons in her closet. And it’s not only about her husband. Let’s hope Hawaii voters are smart enough to see through all of this.

  16. KoreAmBear Says:

    Hanabusa is seemingly old Hawaii politics personified. If you want more of that, vote for her. If not, vote for someone new and unadulterated, with ideals. He happens to live in the 1st District.

  17. ppcc Says:


    The latest TV ads show Djou’s wife stating that Hanabusa and others are completely misrepresenting her husband’s and his record while Hanabusa’s commercial has her by herself talking about… nothing. Hanabusa makes vague comments about the need to “follow through” and not be in the party of “no”. Not once does Hanabusa show Obama’s picture or mention his name given that if elected, Hanabusa has publicly stated her goal in Congress is to provide unwavering support for ALL of Obama’s initiatives. Hanabusa does not talk about Obamacare, or any of his current and upcoming “stimulus packages” that have done nothing to stimulate the economy or improve unemployment. Hanabusa also does not mention that some of the Obama stimulus package jobs have been revealed to cost literally millions in taxpayer monies per individual employee. Hanabusa’s TV add reminds me of Bruce Lee in the movie Enter the Dragon when he was on a boat and some wannabe bully makes trouble to Lee and Lee brushed him off by stating his style of martial arts is the “art of fighting without fighting”. Hanabasa seems similar as she is trying to perfect the art of talking without talking. In her TV ad her husband or Obama is nowhere to be seen or mention of Obama’s initiatives so all is left is for Hanabusa to be by herself and make useless statements that have ZERO substance or relevance.

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