We are days removed from the entertaining debate for the Hawaii 1st CD House seat. The three participants were Republican Charles Djou, Democrat Ed Case, and Democrat Colleen Hanabusa. The event was presented by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawaii News Now, and the Honolulu Advertiser. The candidates took questions from a panel and also questions from viewer emails. The debate was held at the Neil Blaisdell Center and lasted for an hour and a half.
The debate was very interesting and very entertaining. All three candidates seemed well prepared and were very quick on their feet. It seemed like they each had their own points that were to be hammered down at some point during the debate. The live audience continually rose in applause and cheers. Each candidate had a fair share of the crowd and it was amusing to hear the oohs and aahs. The candidates were allowed to take questions from each other and this is where some of the best action of the night was seen. Case and Djou repeatedly took on one another with questions about trust, ethics, and integrity. Mr. Djou repeatedly pointed out Mr. Case’s choice to leave his initial House seat in a bid for a Senate challenge of Daniel Akaka. Mr. Case repeatedly fired back with the fact that Mr. Djou had hit a term limit as a Honolulu City Council member and needed to run for another office. Both candidates maintained that the other put ambition above principle. Hawaii Senate President Colleen Hanabusa did not seem to step in the middle of the verbal sparring match of her opponents. She instead chose to allow them to come to her and would hammer her points of being the voice of Hawaii’s people and someone who could get things done in a short amount of time.
In terms of learning about each of the candidates, there was little useful information being discussed or revealed. Each candidate repeated talking points taken directly from their respective campaigns and rarely veered from that. Councilman Djou continually mentioned lower taxes and fiscal responsibility. Former Representative Case hammered that he is an independent and will fight special interest. Senate President Hanabusa stated her position as a hard worker that would fight against corporate greed in Washington D.C.
The debate may have been too little too late for Sen. Hanabusa as she trails both candidates in many of the early polls. She performed well and may have gained more supporters, but only time will tell if she can overcome a large deficit. Councilman Djou looked like a well polished politician. He kept his answers short but failed to really explain his points. And there was a little issue of making the whole event seem like a beauty pageant. Councilman Djou repeatedly would flash a vibrant smile after his remarks. It made for a very uncomfortable moment. Former Rep. Case started a little slowly but finished with a barrage of hay makers. He seemed to get stronger and bolder as the debate proceeded and was not shy about defending his record.
Each candidate performed well. The only winner in this debate is the voting public. The voters were given a glimpse into the different campaigns of this election. The mail-in ballots have already begun to arrive at homes and voters are beginning to send in their completed ballots. Come the night of May 22, we will have a new representative for better or worse.
To see replays of the debate, visit Hawaii News Now.
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