Welcome to the American Revolution II

Welcome to the American Revolution II
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
"We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method..." and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex... The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."Dwight D. Eisenhower

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In Barack Obama's maybe hometown: The Democratic turf battle, "stay off my turf"


The Hawaiian word kuleana roughly translates to turf, as in, "stay off my turf!"

Gangs fight over turf, and so do politicians. It turns out that an internecine Democratic turf battle may just help elect the first Republican to the U.S. Congress from Hawaii in two decades.

The last Republican to hold the seat was former school teacher Pat Saiki, who left the House in 1990 and who now chairs the campaign of the Republican who is trying to change that trend, Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou. He may be sitting in a good spot in a year Republicans hope is good enough to make them competitive -- even in the Aloha State.

The coming special election for Hawaii's 1st Congressional District pits two Democrats -- former Rep. Ed Case (whose cousin is AOL founder Steve Case) and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa -- against the GOP's Djou. What is more, it is winner takes all. There is no primary and no runoff election; whoever has the most votes on May 22 wins.

Further complicating matters for Democrats is that, for internal political reasons, party leaders cannot rally around either of the candidates. House leaders would reportedly like to support Case, but he angered both of Hawaii's U.S. senators when he "primaried" Sen. Daniel Akaka in 2006 and made an issue out of the fact that both Hawaii senators are over the age of 80. Not coincidentally, they are supporting Hanabusa.

"Ed Case has not been respecting U.S. Senator [Daniel] Inouye's kuleana," says Djou. "That's a concept people within the Beltway don't understand -- and that's why the division in this race is so sharp. Both of them dislike me, but they really hate each other."

Although Democrats cannot settle on a candidate, they have settled on a strategy of attacking the Republican interloper. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) recently released a TV ad blasting Djou for signing Americans for Tax Reform's "Taxpayer's Protection Pledge," saying it "protects tax breaks for companies who send jobs overseas." (ATR fired back, calling the claims "false".) Interestingly, the ad itself has actually stoked the Democratic divide. The ad's narrator says, "Hawaii needs a 'Congressman on our side," and some have speculated this may be a signal being sent from the DCCC that it actually prefers former Congressman Case.

Clearly, Democrats are concerned about Djou, as they should be. It appears that the Republicans are running the best candidate the GOP has fielded in years. Djou, 39, started fundraising for this campaign years ago, and has lined up respected advisers such as Web guru Patrick Ruffini and The Tarrance Group, a respected polling firm. His advantages don't end there. Djou tells me he is the only candidate in the race who actually resides in the 1st District. Nor are those Democrats exactly political giants: Case previously defeated Hanabusa for the 2nd congressional seat in a 2002 special election. He then abandoned his seat to run against Akaka in 2006. Hanabusa narrowly lost a congressional primary in 2006 in the 2nd District.

Honolulu is the capital and largest city in Hawaii, and Djou, who serves on the City Council, is well known and highly qualified. He served as minority floor leader in the Hawaii Legislature, has a military background (he serves in the U.S. Army Reserve), is a law professor (on sabbatical at the University of Hawaii). He also is self-deprecating and easy-going -- always a plus in laid-back Hawaii -- and mainstream in his views. He is a fiscal conservative and a social moderate -- something that might harm him in other states, but which benefits him in Hawaii. In other words, he is a difficult candidate for Democrats to demonize.

Despite having a Republican governor, Hawaii is a deep blue state and the birthplace of President Obama. "I actually went to the same high school as the president," says Djou. "Had I known Maya's older brother would grow up to become president, I may well have asked her out to senior prom."

This will be the first-ever all-mail-in election in the state, with ballots being sent out on April 30 (voters have until May 22 to return them, but Djou expects most people will cast ballots during the first few days).

"The campaign is probably going to reach a fever pitch when the ballots are put in the mail to the voters," Djou tells Politics Daily.

Djou says the race is over "whether or not the people want another insider, or someone who's going to shake up the system. My opponents are running as insiders, and I am not." Djou favors a moratorium on earmarks, is a free trader, would have opposed the stimulus, and would have opposed health care reform. Djou is currently trailing both Democrats in the polls, and the National Republican Congressional Committee has not yet committed to coming to his rescue. But if Republicans can win in Massachusetts, then anything is possible.

"If Republicans win Barack Obama's hometown, it is going to make a profound statement about the 2010 midterm election," Djou says.

How can the Republican Party bosses in Washington resist that story line?

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