Posted tagged ‘election 2012’

Charles Djou climbs back in the saddle

April 11, 2011

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.


Akaka leaves a political void

March 3, 2011

Give U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka credit for a graceful announcement of his retirement after getting a less-than-gentle shove from his Democratic colleagues.

Akaka announced months ago that he planned to run for re-election in 2012 at 88, but he’d raised a paltry $66,000 for a likely formidable challenge from former Gov. Linda Lingle in a race that could cost $3 million to $6 million.

Fellow senators gave him their first hint that they didn’t think he was their best chance at beating Lingle when they dropped him as chairman of the Veteran Affairs Committee, which embarrassed him and cost him political capital at home.

Then a week ago, fellow Hawai‘i Sen. Daniel Inouye said pointedly that Akaka shouldn’t expect the outpouring of financial and and moral support he received from colleagues in 2006 when he faced a primary challenge from former Rep. Ed Case.

Now that Akaka has gotten the message and announced he’ll step down after finishing his term, the big question is whether the Democrats who nudged him out were right that they can find a stronger candidate to take on Lingle.

Though his age and failure to pass his signature Akaka bill for native Hawaiian political recognition were becoming liabilities, Akaka has been one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet in politics during his more than 30 years in Washington and enjoys a deep well of aloha among local voters. He hasn’t lost an election since 1974.

The four Democrats most likely to run for the seat — U.S. Reps. Mazie Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Case — all have spotty records with voters and have lost as many or more big races as they’ve won.

In listing potential candidates, Inouye mentioned a couple of intriguing younger and fresher possibilities in Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz and Tammy Duckworth, a McKinley grad who is assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but a crowded primary might be politically problematic for either.

Carlisle pushes early for campaign cash

February 16, 2011

Mayor Peter Carlisle has a message on his campaign website promising supporters that “steps are … being taken to remove the specter of politics from Honolulu Hale.”

Then on the same page, he’s soliciting individual donations of $100 to $1,000 and selling tables for up to $8,000 for a Mayoral Celebration on April 19 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village to raise funds for his future political ambitions.

The campaign fundraiser, originally scheduled for Valentine’s Day, is being held in lieu of the less political inaugural ball traditionally thrown by new mayors.

Carlisle promises big-name entertainment headlined by Jim Nabors, Jimmy Borges and Monica Mancini, and those who plunk down $8,000 for “platinum” tables get their picture taken with the mayor.

It’s a new day from his time as city prosecutor when he made a big deal of placing limits on the campaign contributions he’d accept.

Carlisle, who was elected in a September special election to finish Mufi Hannemann’s term, has already announced his intention to seek not one, but two more terms as Honolulu mayor “if my family and the citizens of Honolulu permit.”

The new mayor has split with one of his most prominent campaign supporters, former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who said at a recent anti-rail news conference that Carlisle is not a reasonable man and indicated he regrets backing him.

But interestingly, Cayetano’s wife Vicky is still listed as a member of the event committee for the April fundraiser.

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