May 21st, 2010
01:56 PM ET
12 years ago

Family Feud may give GOP rare Hawaii victory

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Rep. Neil Abercrombie's run for governor has opened the door to a possible GOP victory in Hawaii."](CNN) – An intra-party fight among Democrats will most likely allow Republicans to win a House seat in a place they rarely win congressional elections: Hawaii.

Results are expected late Saturday in a special election for the state's 1st Congressional District, a battle for seat of former Rep. Neil Abercrombie. The 10-term Democratic lawmaker stepped down earlier this year to concentrate full-time on his bid for Hawaii governor.

The seat should be safe for the Democrats, who dominate the district, which includes Honolulu and some surrounding suburbs. Abercrombie won more than three-quarters of the vote in his most recent re-election and President Obama, who spent parts of his childhood in the district, won 70 percent of the vote in the 2008 presidential election.

Listen: CNN Radio's Dick Uliano breaks down the Hawaii special election.

But there are two Democratic candidates on the ballot in this election and recent polls indicate they are splitting the vote, with the Republican candidate, Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou, in first place in the surveys. The special election is a winner-take-all contest, with only a plurality needed for victory.

The two Democrats are former Rep. Ed Case, considered the more moderate candidate, and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, considered the more liberal candidate. Hanabusa was in third place, according to recent polls, but she refused to step aside. She disputes the surveys' findings and says they are wrong, according to local reports.

While national Democratic Party organizations may favor Case, they have not formally endorsed either of their party's candidates. Meanwhile, the state's two Democratic senators, Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye, are pushing for Hanabusa.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ran ads that criticized Djou. But earlier this month, after it was clear neither candidate would drop out, the DCCC stopped spending any more money or time on the race.

The winner of this weekend's special election will have to defend the seat come November, and national Democrats are saving their firepower for that contest, when only one Democrat will be on the ballot.

"We're looking at November in Hawaii," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the DCCC chairman, told reporters Thursday. "I think you all know the situation, and it's important that people do understand the unique circumstances of a special election in Hawaii – you don't have a primary. You have, in this case, 3 candidates – 2 Democrats and one Republican. I can confidently predict that the Democrats together will get a majority of the vote. Just like the Democratic candidate in November will get a majority of the vote."

But a win for Djou in the special election will be seen as a symbolic victory for the GOP.

"The fact that we have an opportunity to win in President Obama's childhood district where he received 70 percent of the vote in '08, speaks to the quality of Charles Djou's candidacy and the level of Republican voter intensity across the country," Ken Spain, NRCC communications director, said.

Voting in the race has been underway for weeks, and ballots in the all-mail contest need to be returned to the state office of elections by Saturday.

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–CNN's Mark Preston and Shannon Travis contributed to this story

Filed under: 2010 • Hawaii
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Thersa

    This is only till November. No big deal.

    May 21, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. harold

    Rand Paul.. the fellow from Kentucky..not Hawaii... said he thought he deserved a honeymoon from the media for few months.. Let him go on his honeymoon alone and take his small government with him.. As for the OIL spill.. its down right Un- American to make the Gulf into a b-P cesspool of oil and ruin the food supply for fishermen... But no Paul says its un-american to criticize B-P.. Strange huh?.. And not even an elected a senator yet...So Kentucky you agree with this B-P lover...

    May 21, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  3. vwrtb

    Keep dreaming republicans... Better stick with Kentucky and south Carolina...

    May 21, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Hawaii may like what they get, when compared to what they WERE getting!

    May 21, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  5. Perry

    I live in Hawaii but not in the first district. The Dems fielded two great candidates and neither wants to back down for the cause.

    No worries though, mate. The Congressional spot goes back on the block in November giving the Dems time for a primary.

    May 21, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. Signe

    Just Djou It!

    May 21, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Zeke

    Every incumbent candidate running against a Democrat in the upcoming November election; your campaign just became very cheap and easy! Get your hands on a copy of that tape of all the Democrats giving a standing ovation after the mexican president trashed our country yesterday. Focus the footage on the Democrat you are running against and make one commercial out of it. Run that commercial on every channel as often as you can and that is all you will have to do to beat your opponent this fall!

    May 21, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. guest

    this is such a stupid worthless story...even if they split the voote and lose this one little seat they will just take it back in november! its hawaii for god sakes it prob wont even happen with the two dems splitting the vote ive read this story about four times now it is NOT IMPORTANT.

    May 21, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  9. Mikey

    The Democrats do have a unique ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    May 21, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  10. No Incumbents 2010

    Charles Djou is a winner with a distinguished record of leadership and will be an excellent Member of Congress. Hawaii will be well served by his representation.

    May 21, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  11. Charlie in Maine

    Okay guys this is why we have political parties. One of you needs to drop out. Draw straws,play cards surf....arm wrestle for all I care but if you two idiots cause this seat to go GOP then both of you should be removed from th party.

    May 21, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |