Daily Archives: May 24, 2010

Hawaii’s 1st CD special election 2010

A special election was held in Hawaii’s 1st congressional district on May 22, 2010 following the February 28 retirement of incumbent Representative Neil Abercrombie in order to focus on his run for Governor of Hawaii in November. Hawaii’1st district covers part of the city and county of Honolulu on Oahu island. The district, which has an Asian majority (54%), is a relatively affluent district including Honolulu, the military base at Pearl Harbor and tourist spots such as Waikiki. The seat has long been Democratic, electing only one Republican since Hawaii got two districts in 1971, though the presence of the military base and wealthier areas make it on balance the most Republican of Hawaii’s two districts. Obama won 70% of the vote in 2008 against 28% for McCain, while Kerry had won 52% to Bush’s 47%. Hawaiian voters, especially Asian voters, are especially known to be pro-incumbent. The Cook PVI for the district is D+11.

Hawaiian law in special elections specifies that these elections are a wild free-for-all, meaning that there are no primaries and all party candidates run against each other and the one with a plurality would win. This election was done quasi entirely by vote-by-mail as well. The three main candidates in this fourteen-candidate election were Charles Djou, the Republican; former Democratic Representative Ed Case (who represented HI-02 between 2002 and 2007) and Hawaii State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa. Case, a moderate to conservative Democrat, has been in bad terms with Senator Akaka and Asian voters in general since he unsuccessfully challenged Akaka in the 2006 primaries. Hanabusa, endorsed by Akaka, Senator Daniel Inouye, unions and liberal groups, was the liberal and Asian candidate in the race on the Democratic side. Hanabusa and Case split the Democratic vote, giving Djou the advantage. Here are the results:

Charles Djou (R) 39.4%
Colleen Hanabusa (D) 30.8%
Ed Case (D) 27.6%
Rafael del Castillo (D) 0.4%
Kalaeloa Strode (I) 0.3%
Jim Brewer (I) 0.2%
Philmund Lee (D) 0.1%
Charles Collins (R) 0.1%
C. Kaui Jochanan Amsterdam (R) 0.1%
Vinny Browne (D) 0.1%
Steve Tataii (I) 0.1%
Douglas Crum (R) 0.1%
John Giuffre (R) 0%
Karl F. Moseley (I) 0%

D 59% vs. R 39.7%

Republicans can cheer as they break a straight Democratic streak in House special elections since 2008, but it doesn’t change that Djou is extremely likely to end up serving only a few months. It’s clear that he won due to the division of the Democratic vote, something which is extremely unlikely to happen again in November given that there’ll actually be a primary in September where the Democrats will likely choose between Case and Hanabusa again. The special election is really only a Pyrrhic artificial victory for the Republicans, and while it may be encouraging for them, it really doesn’t mean anything (except for the symbolism of holding, albeit temporarily, the district where Obama grew up). The situation overall remains the same as it always was, this doesn’t change anything.