The Campaign Spot

Djou You Want an On-the-Ground Report From Hawaii?

A reader in Hawaii who’s a fan of Campaign Spot and Hugh Hewitt gives a report from on the ground:

Two public workers unions (UPW – United Public Workers Union, and the HSTA — Teacher’s Union) went on the air with negative ads against Djou over the weekend.  Both are aimed primarily at Djou – though one takes shots at Case as well, and both unions have endorsed Hanabusa.

The Hawaii legislature just adjourned Thursday, having done little or nothing to address a huge budget shortfall looming over the next two years.  Dems DOMINATE the Legislature – 23-2 in the 25-member State Senate (Hanabusa is the Senate President), and 45-6 in the State House.   The best thing they did was AVOID raising the state’s General Excise Tax, which was being demanded by all the public worker unions who wanted the additional revenue to avoid furloughs and layoffs of government employees.

But, on the last day of the session, within the last 4 hours, the Dems brought up – without notice to the public – a Civil Unions bill that had been tabled at the beginning of the session, and quickly passed it, sending the measure to the Gov.  The same bill had been voted down last year after a big public outcry – led by the religious community in Hawaii, principally the Mormon and Evangelical communities. That same group was ready to go at the beginning of the legislative session back in January, but the Dems tabled the bill.  When they called it back up on the last day, they caught the opponents off guard, and it passed 31-20. This has really energized the more conservative elements of the Hawaii electorate – both Dem and GOP — just as the ballots began to land in mailboxes in the Congressional race.

And, this came after that poll that was just covered by the Advertiser article you posted from yesterday showing Djou with an expanding lead.

Another thing – don’t look for either Hanabusa or Case to drop out.  They are going to face each other again in 3 months, in the Dem primary for the Nov. general election. Even if Djou wins the special, Hanabusa and Case are fighting for the Dem party’s support in August. If Hanabusa runs a bad third, some of the unions that have lined up behind her might rethink their position, and switch to Case. Case has won 3 times for Congress in the Hawaii 2nd District. It would also likely spell the end of Dan Inouye’s “Kingmaker” status in Hawaii Dem politics. He’s done everything he can do to boost Hanabusa, and based on the poll  you cited, only 1 in 5 voters in the 1st District are willing to vote for her. That is a stunning rejection of the Hawaii Democrats’ “machine.”

. . . [roughly] 1 in 6 voters within the 1st Congressional District live within Djou’s City Council District.

Council races are nonpartisan, but Djou won his first election for City Council 51-39.  He is the only openly-avowed Republican on the City Council – and the Dems were unable to mount a challenge against him in the Dem year of 2006, with him  running unopposed.

If Djou wins the special, with the money and other benefits of incumbency, he might be tough to beat in Nov. as well. If Hanabusa runs third, she may think she has a better shot in a 2-way race, but she’ll be very damaged goods, and she has a significant amount of political baggage now.

If Case runs 3rd, its hard to see him mounting a real serious challenge in Nov. He’s a pariah in the  Hawaii Dem. Party, and I don’t think he’ll ever get the state party to support him.  I suspect they would look within the party establishment to find a replacement for Hanabusa, and if they can’t win the seat back from Djou in 2010, they’ll groom someone for a shot at him in 2012 when Obama will be on the ballot again in the District.

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