Charles Djou climbs back in the saddle

Just three months after he all but swore off elective politics in a pouty exit from his brief stint in Congress, former Republican golden boy Charles Djou seems very much back in the game.

In January, he lashed out at the “Democratic machine” that wrested away the U.S. House seat he held for a few months and handed it to Colleen Hanabusa, saying, “Currently, I have no plans to run for any political office ever again.”

But his plans seem to have changed as he keeps himself visible giving speeches, sending out tweets and writing op-ed commentaries, such as yesterday’s in the Star-Advertiser urging Hawai‘i to modernize its civil service system.

He struck a similar theme in a recent speech on the Big Island, where the Hawai‘i Tribune-Herald reported:

Djou said the state is stuck in a plantation-era, 1950’s model of big government, big business and big labor unions. National government, other state governments and private businesses, meanwhile, are changing rapidly to focus on specialization, reduced size and transparency, he said, noting advances in communications technology is aiding that transition.

“Hawaii’s way of doing things is a very 20th Century way of doing things,” Djou said.

Djou, who has returned to law practice, hints he might be interested in running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Daniel Akaka if former Gov. Linda Lingle decides not to carry the GOP banner, but more likely he’s looking at another run for the House — especially if Hanabusa or her fellow Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono go for the Senate seat.

In either case, he’s one of the few Hawai‘i Republicans articulate and marketable enough to credibly contend for the state’s higher offices and the local party is no doubt happy to have him back in action.

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7 Comments on “Charles Djou climbs back in the saddle”

  1. Kolea Says:

    Good to see the Star-Advertiser is continuing its policy of Affirmative Action for Republicans by publishing Charles Djou commentary for him.

    Let’s look at what is happening. As you say, Charles is one of the few marketable faces available to the Republicans. While you speak in terms of the “local party,” I suspect it is the needs –and money– of the national Republican networks which are driving this much more than those of local Republicans. So let’s reframe this and see if it offers us a slightly different insight.

    The national Republican interests anticipate on having almost unlimited money at their disposal in the wake of the ruling of their 5 Supreme Court justices which will allow corporate money to flood into political campaigns at unprecedented amounts. Armed with this money, and their 24/7 round the clock propaganda Fox News and talk radio, the Republican hope to increase control over Congress, take over the US Senate and elect more Governors in the mold of Walker of Wisconsin and Kasich of Ohio.

    As their operatives survey Hawaii, they see few ready-made personalities they can employ to secure a Congressional seat. Lingle is their best shot for a Senate seat. Djou for the US House. Djou’s “hissy fit” non-concession speech proclamation he would “never” run again can be overcome with the infusion of enough cash.

    So they work with Djou to strengthen his position. A professional writes that commentary for him and the Star-Advertiser does there part in displaying it prominently in he Sunday paper.

    Not to diminish Djou’s role in all this. He probably had the right to review the text before it went out over his signature. I doubt he was the one who picked the topic or actually wrote the thing. Same thing with the speech.

    One thing we learned about Djou in his last campaign. He has good “message discipline.” He memorizes his “talking points” and repeats them faithfully. In fact, he is SO faithful at repeating them that he often comes across as a Chatty Cathy doll. You pull the string, the lips move and a pre-recorded message comes out. When he delivers the lines without stumbling, he smiles with glee, quite happy with himself.

  2. Michael Says:

    Djou will not stand a chance winning against lingle but I would vote for him.
    I would vote for Ben Cayetano first before I vote for lingle, case, hanneman or any other candidate, Democrat or Republican. If Ben does not run, than I vote for Djou. If they both run I will vote for Ben.

    It shows that Djou falls off his horse that he will get back on again.

  3. Guido Sarducci Says:

    Kolea is right: We must suppress ay mention of Republicans. Only through complete and total information control can we Democrats achieve victory.

  4. Kolea Says:

    Guido,

    If you think Democrats only win elections because nobody hears about the Republicans, you are in serious denial.

    The newspapers have basically announced their affirmative action policy for the Republican Party. They don’t call it that, because it would be kind of awkward, Instead, they say justify giving prominence to Republican candidates as part of their effort to foster a “strong, two-party system.”

    Think about the selection of Djou to write a commentary about civil service reform. In one column, write down his “expertise” on the subject. In another column, write down his desire for a high profile in preparation for a future political campaign.

    Which factor weighed heavier in deciding whether to give him a high-profile commentary? The paper is clearly trying to build him up. Not because they will necessarily endorse him. But because they want to help him put him “into play” for the next election cycle.

    They’ve done that in the past with Lingle and with Ed Case.

    If you don’t see that, maybe the collar on your tunic is too tight and restricting the blood flow into your brain.

  5. David Shapiro Says:

    Geez, kolea, the guy has 10 years of legislative experience at the county, state and federal level and a legitimate point of view. He was in the legislature when they took up the Cayetano civil service reforms he mentions. To begrudge him a little bit of space in the paper is ridiculous. The newspaper has an obligation to provide a diversity of views. If you don’t want to read it, turn the page, but there’s good reason why partisans like you don’t get to control what other people read.

  6. Kolea Says:

    Dave,

    I don’t “begrudge him” the coverage. I am only pointing out he would not be seeking to have a commentary on this subject published if he were not seeking higher office. And I doubt the Star-Advertiser would grant him the space if they were not interested in helping him raise his profile.

    If you were to defend the paper’s decisions as part of an effort to strengthen the two party system, that is a reasonable position. But to close your eyes to the phenomenon and pretend it does not exist is absurd.

    When Lingle lost the first race to Cayetano, she announced a longterm strategy for rebuilding the GOP and positioning herself to run again for Governor. She became chair of the Hawaii GOP to give her a platform. Both papers gave her more column inches than they ever gave to previous Democratic Party chairs. Earlier chairs rarely got any coverage, unless, like Richard Port, their statements could be used to criticize the Machine Democrats. We could do a study of column inches devoted to her if you wish, but I suspect you would just change the subject.

    Her honeymoon with the press lasted into her second term. She started being treated less generously when she snubbed Obama and started actively campaigning for Sarah Palin.

    Similarly, Ed Case used to get extremely favorable press coverage. Ed has stumbled a bit lately and I cannot say there has re-emerged (yet) an agreed upon Official Media Consensus on Ed. And if corporate media favorite Ed were to run against corporate media favorite Lingle, would a clear media bias be able to express itself or would the competing preferences neutralize each other?

  7. Incognito Says:

    While I am a Democrat and did not vote for Djou and would not vote for him, I do concur (regardless who authored the op-ed) that reform of the civil service system is needed. I say this as an ex-state employee who voluntarily resigned from state service. Why? I worked in a health care service division and witnessed such a low clinical standard of care that I could not remain employed in the system without compromising my professional integrity and professional license. Besides the state exempting itself from the laws that regulate this same area in the private sector, all too often, the poor performing and unqualified employees were civil service and little could be done to discipline them or terminate them, even when their work was grossly negligent. And the “best” part is that these same employees could never be hired in the private sector for the same job since the private sector because they don’t meet the educational and licensure requirements. I believe in civil service and I am pro-labor and pro-union BUT this is no excuse for protecting those employees who are mediocre.


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