May 22 – Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District
All Politics is Local comes back after a bit of a work-induced hiatus with a fascinating race in Hawaii.
Cash-strapped, the State of Hawaii will hold a mail-in election in the weeks leading up to May 22 to replace Democratic congressman Neil Abercrombie who resigned to focus on his run for Governor. Based on unusual state rules, there is no primary for special elections and therefore all candidates will appear on the ballot together. This has created the unusual prospect that a Republican will win this special election as two powerful and well-known Democrats are running at the same time.
The 1st District of Hawaii covers metropolitan Honolulu and has gone overwhelming Democratic over the past twenty years that Abercrombie served. While Republicans have had some recent success in the island state – current governor Laura Lingle surprised many by becoming the state’s executive as a Republican – it is largely believed that regardless of who wins this special election, Democrats will have control over the seat after November – when there will only be one Democrat and one Republican on the ballot.
But, for now, both parties are sending operatives and spending money in this race which both hope to spin in the build-up to November.
The race has already created a large rift between Democratic power-players in the state. On one side of the party is Ed Case, a moderate Democrat who previously served as Congressman from the more rural 2nd Congressional district and bucked the party apparatus by running against longtime incumbent Democratic US Senator Daniel Akaka, who he was soundly defeated by in 2006. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been coordinating with the Case campaign, largely seeing him as more electable and in a very strongly worded endorsement, the Honolulu Advertiser, the largest newspaper in the state, endorsed his candidacy as well. To learn more about Ed Case and his campaign, click here.
The Island’s Democratic party has rallied around Colleen Hanabusa, the State Senate President and judged by many as the more liberal candidate. Backed by US Senators Akaka and Daniel Inoyue as well as many labor unions, Hanabusa is the first Asian-American to lead the legislative body and, up until her election in 1998, was a practicing attorney. To learn more about her campaign, click here.
Republicans have rallied around Honolulu councilman Charles Djou, a young rising star in the small Hawaiian Republican party. Clearly conservative without many of the markings of moderation that Republicans in the state often embrace, Djou has attacked the new health-care law and much of President Obama’s agenda. An officer in the US Army Reserve as well as the former Floor Leader as a State Representative in the Hawaii House, Djou hopes to be the first Republican elected to the 1st Congressional District since 1991. To learn more, click here.
And don’t doubt how close the race will end up being. The most recent poll, conducted by Research 2000, has Djou with 32%, Case with 29% and Hanabusa with 28%. All within the margin of error which is +- 5%.