Joel Mowbray reports: The latest from Hawaii 1

Occasional contributor Joel Mowbray ([email protected]) writes to comment on the special congressional election in Hawaii:

This weekend could mark a stunning upset for the GOP in the unlikeliest of places: the home district of President Barack Obama. Hawaii’s first Congressional district, a Democratic stronghold for decades, is holding a special election because of the retirement of Neil Abercrombie, and the frontrunner is Republican Charles Djou, who even went to the same school as Obama did (albeit years later).
Polls show Djou is the odds-on favorite to win when the all-mail-in balloting is tallied tomorrow night. Here’s why: there’s a bloodbath between two top Democrats in this open, winner-takes-all election. It appears that State Senator Colleen Hanabusa and former Rep. Ed Case, who represented the state’s other Congressional district until 2006, are dutifully splitting the Democratic vote, meaning Djou can win the seat with a plurality of 40 percent, or even less. (The back story is that Case decided to leave his seat to run a primary campaign against the beloved Sen. Daniel Akaka in 2006, which angered the Democratic party bosses so much that they’re backing his rival in an open election, even knowing that this could pave the way for a Djou victory.)
Perhaps the strongest indication that Djou will win is that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pulled out of the race early. Even though the DCCC refused to endorse a candidate, the group ran a hard-hitting ad attacking Djou as an extremist who wanted to give tax breaks to companies for outsourcing jobs overseas. The flagrantly false ad fell flat, convincing the DCCC to save its cash for other, more winnable races.
Assuming Djou pulls out the victory in a deeply blue district, he’ll make national news. When he does, expect the conventional wisdom to be that his tenure will be short-lived, possibly even just until this November. Perhaps. But if any Republican could hold this bastion of blue for the long-haul, it’s Djou.
Young and clean-cut, Djou is on Honolulu’s city council precisely because he’s been able to win Democratic votes. His political skills are solid, and his message perfectly attuned to the current climate. In keeping with this Year of the Tea Party, Djou is a genuine fiscal hawk. He supports across-the-board tax relief that helps families and businesses alike, but his strongest focus is taming runaway government spending.
While his message is similar to that of most economic conservatives, his pitch is unusually powerful. Seeing him in person last month, what struck this journalist most is that Djou speaks in plain English, and he manages to convey the appropriate urgency without losing his sunny optimism. Djou is the real deal.
Asked about the significance of his race, Djou told me, “This will prove whether [the election of] Scott Brown was a fluke, or a trend.”
It would certainly be a trend worth celebrating.

It would not only be a trend worth celebrating, it would give James Taranto the opportunity to ask the irresistible question a few more times: “Hath not a Djou ayes?”

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