“Things are going very well for Mitt Romney” in Hawaii, says former Republican congressman Charles Djou, who has endorsed the ex-governor. “Frankly, he’s the only one with a semblance of organization in the state.”
Congressman Ron Paul, Djou admits, “has been making an effort.” His oldest son Ronnie will stump for him for five days in the lead-up to the caucuses on March 13. As for Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, Djou says, “I think they nominally have state chairs, but to the best of my knowledge, they have not invested much time here.”
Yet Djou believes Gingrich may do well in Maui, where the ex-speaker has lived part time: “I know Speaker Gingrich, and I think there’s a lot of aloha for him out here in Maui. He might do a little better than expected.”
Unlike in 2008, the caucuses this year are binding. Hawaii commands 20 delegates to the national convention: three superdelegates (the state-party chairman, national committeeman, and national committeewoman) who are unbound, six congressional-district delegates (three for each of the two districts) who must vote for whichever candidate wins their respective district, and eleven at-large delegates who will be allocated proportionately according to the statewide vote.
On March 13, the local parties will hold caucuses in all 51 state-house districts, which cover about 25,000 people each. Any registered voter may show up, and if he is not registered as a Republican, he can change his affiliation right there. Although the first congressional district is more Republican than the second, Djou doesn’t expect a difference in candidate preferences: “I don’t anticipate situation where different candidates win different districts.”
Asked whether he thought the drawn-out primary was a sign of Mitt Romney’s weakness, Djou responds, “Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fought it out till June. I think this is common in terms of selecting a nominee. And I’m confident Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee, and he’ll win the presidency this fall.”