Democrats reassure themselves, “Sure, Charles Djou took 40 percent in a three-way race in a special election for Hawaii’s 1st congressional district, but we’ve got that seat in our back pocket come November.”
Charlie Cook isn’t so sure:
By the time Democrats decided to abandon ship and “save resources for November” rather than wade into a messy intra-party special election fight, more than half of ballots had been cast by mail and the election had already been lost. But their smart sacrifice allowed Republican Charles Djou to cruise into HI-01 with nearly 40 percent of the free-for-all vote, with state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa taking 31 percent and Democratic former Rep. Ed Case taking 28 percent. Contrary to what some on the Democratic side are saying, Democrats’ combined 60 percent share of the vote doesn’t make Djou a dead man walking in November. While he joins Louisiana GOP Rep. Joseph Cao in the Toss Up column, Djou begins his time in the House with a much stronger chance of winning a full term . . .
Hawaii will hold the latest primary in the nation on September 18th. And just because only one Democrat will emerge to face Djou on that date doesn’t mean Hawaii Democrats’ civil war will end. In fact, the finger-pointing taking place in local Democratic circles could produce an even larger, more fractured field of candidates in the primary, leaving Democrats with little time to repair bruised egos and allowing Djou to stay far above the fray as the fall campaign season begins. Only one Republican holds a more Democratic seat than Djou, and Djou will be a top target, but Democrats have their work cut out for them. President Bush’s 47 percent share here in 2004 and GOP Gov. Linda Lingle’s big majorities in 2002 and 2006 show that HI-01 is open to voting for the right kind of Republican, especially when Democrats are a mess.
At this point, all that Republicans can ask for is a fair shot.