Hawaii voters will need to decide on the two US Congressional seats which represent the state. The islands have seen little change in the make up of its Congressional delegation. In fact, Hawaii voters have never voted out an incumbent for either the US House or Senate seats. This time around Hawaii’s voters have a strong contender to replace an incumbent. Last week Desperate America Report and the Honolulu Coffee Party Examiner introduced everyone to the candidates for the 1st and 2nd CD House seats. Today, join us as we go a little deeper into the candidates and figure out where the chips will fall come the November election.
The race for Hawaii’s 1st CD seat features an incumbent with only a few months of experience in the seat. Congressman Charles Djou, will be looking to earn the outright vote of the people come the primary and general elections. Djou won the right to replace Neil Abercrombie after his win in Hawaii’s special election held in May of this year. Djou, a Republican, beat out big name Democrats Colleen Hanabusa and Ed Case in a hotly contested race. Many pundits feel that his win was a result of the two Democrats splitting the vote rather than an affirmation for Djou’s candidacy. The Congressman previously served on the Honolulu City Council from 2003 until 2010. He was term-limited from running for reelection.
Since being elected to office, Djou has voted to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, and against the extension of unemployment benefits. Djou’s mantra has been to vote no on increased taxes and no on deficit spending. He would like to see inter-state sales of health insurance to combat the near monopoly on Hawaii’s current insurance system. Djou feels the need for a reform in the way earmarks are done in order to eliminate wasteful spending. The former City Councilman has also pledged to fight for federal funding to help Hawaii become a beacon of alternative energy.
Challenging Congressman Djou within the Republican Party is John Giuffre. Giuffre is a relative unknown but has released numerous videos online and through Olelo which discuss the economic problems facing the nation. Based on the Big Island, Giuffre earned only 82 of the more than 150,000 votes tallied in May.
Democrat Rafael Del Castillo was the fourth leading vote getter in the May special election. Del Castillo moved to Hawaii in 1987. Just ten years later, he began his advocacy for healthcare reform in Hawaii. He is a big proponent of building a partnership between the health care industry and the government. He has stated the creation of such a partnership will help alleviate the high costs we currently face. Del Castillo has an uphill battle to gain the party’s nomination. He opposes any form of an AMT for middle and lower-income families and has called it a way to keep the poor in poverty. He holds a belief that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional citing it is in violation of the 10th amendment. He also supports a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policies.
Current Hawaii Senate President, Colleen Hanabusa is the top Democrat in the race. Earning a surprising second place finish in the special election, Hanabusa cemented her position as one of the top Hawaii Democrats. Having spent her entire legislative time in the Senate, Hanabusa has been an outspoken advocate for the Leeward coast of Oahu. She has helped get legislation passed that is aimed at curbing Hawaii’s meth problems by a combination of stiffer penalties, prevention programs, and increased treatment programs. Hanabusa is widely expected to earn the Democratic nomination and the privilege to face incumbent Charles Djou in the November general election.
Hanabusa would like to see an increase of resources for college scholarship and loan programs. The move would assist the millions of Americans who are struggling to afford higher education. She also looks to expand internet-based learning to allow working individuals a better chance to get an education. Hanabusa would also like to see more investing of federal money into Hawaii’s renewable energy efforts. This money would go to the development and growth of public and private ventures which would stimulate the local economy.
It is nearly a foregone conclusion that Hanabusa and Djou will face each other in the November general election. Djou will likely have the fundraising advantage and will be able to point to his big votes during his short time since winning the special election. Djou will need to push hard for the independents and conservative Democrats if he hopes to win the race. Hanabusa will have a unified front as opposed to the split vote she encountered in May. It will be interesting to see if the national arm of the Democratic Party comes out to support her.
2nd CD Representative, Mazie Hirono, is the only Democrat in the race. Hirono has been a member of the US House since 2006. Hirono served as Lt. Governor during the Cayetano administration. She would later lose her bid for the office against Maui Mayor, Linda Lingle. Hirono currently sits on the Committee on Transportation and infrastructure, as well as the Committee on Education and Labor. She replaced former Congressman Ed Case after his unsuccessful bid to unseat US Senator, Daniel Akaka. Hirono has long been considered a popular and strong Democrat in Hawaii.
Congresswoman Hirono is running on a platform of investing in early education to prepare our children for the challenges ahead. She also supports reforms of No Child Left Behind. The controversial Bush-era initiative puts an emphasis on test scores and punishes schools who are unable to hit the standards. Hirono is also pushing for the renewal of the tax credits for renewable energy. She believes that government should reward entrepeneurs and help them to develop.
Hawaii television news anchor/reporter, Republican Ramsay Wharton, is set to compete in a tough race for the Republican Party nomination. Wharton, 39, entered the race back in February and brings a wealth of experience having covered politics for the last decade. She is also the co-founder and Vice-President of the newly formed Hawaii Federated Republican Women’s Association. The single mother of a 6 year-old daughter, Wharton is currently seeking her second master’s degree. Wharton promises to lower taxes for the middle and lower-income families of America. She has pledged to fight for better transparency in government and to protect Hawaii’s beautiful environment.
Set to battle Wharton for the GOP nomination is John Willoughby. The current United Airlines pilot, Willoughby resides in Honolulu with his wife and children. Willoughby is a former Navy pilot and was once stationed at Barbers Pt. Naval base in Kalaeloa. He has spent nearly 20 years in the Armed Forces. Willoughby runs on a platform focused on providing small business healthcare plans which would help bring the costs of health insurance down for local businesses. He is also interested in finding ways to allows Hawaii’s school children to travel between islands to provide a better understanding of the unique environment of the islands. He has also pledged to use tax breaks and credits to assist local farmers and help them grow their businesses in Hawaii and around the country.
The road to reelection is not paved with too many bumps for Mazie Hirono. The former Lt. Governor is running a general election race in July and August as opposed to her Republican contenders. Hirono has the last few years in office to point to and has a strong base of supporters. The Republican nomination will come down to which side can gather enough of the base. There will likely be a small voter turnout for Republicans in the primary election due to the big races over on the Democratic Party ballot. The key to a Wharton victory is to draw a parallel between her candidacy and that of Republican darling, Charles Djou. Both are young Republicans with energetic campaigns. Willoughby needs to show he is a strong conservative who can bring reason to Hawaii and create jobs. Ultimately the race is a toss-up. However, we see a Willoughby/Hirono battle in the November general election.
Join us on Friday as we examine the race for the US Senate and the bid to unseat Dan Inouye.
Also, don’t forget to register to vote if you haven’t already. The deadline to register for the September primary is August 18. The deadline for the November general is October 2.
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