Djou tops Democrats for Congressional seat

Travis Quezon

HONOLULU, Hawaii—Republicans were able to make a statement to Democrats with a temporary victory in Hawaii by picking up a Congressional seat in Saturday’s special election.

Republican Charles Djou, a Honolulu City Council member, was declared the winner of the special election after taking 39.5 percent of the vote.

“We have sent a message that this Congressional seat is not owned by any political party,” Djou said upon hearing the results at his campaign headquarters. “It is not owned by any union. It is not owned by any special interest group. This Congressional seat is owned by the people.”

The victory is primarily symbolic as Republicans would still need to gain 40 Democratic seats in November to take control of the 435-member House.

Hawaii has traditionally been a Democratic state, despite currently having a two-term Republican governor. The “Aloha State” is also the birth place of Hawaii’s most famous political son, President Barack Obama.

Djou will fill the House seat left vacant by Democrat Neil Abercrombie, an 11-term veteran who resigned to run for Hawaii’s governor this year.

The GOP introduced national funding into Djou’s campaign, helping to make him the favorite to win over two Democratic heavyweights—former Congressman Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa—who had split the party’s vote.

Hanabusa earned 52,445 votes (30.8 percent), Case earned 47,012 votes (27.6 percent).

Under Hawaii special election rules, all candidates run on a single ballot regardless of party.

Democratic leaders said they are setting their sights on winning the seat back in November, when they can rally behind one candidate.

Djou will fill Abercrombie’s unexpired term, which ends on January 3, 2011.

The full election results can be found here.