Quiet Rematch For Hawaii’s 1st District Seat

By Chad Blair

Civil Beat

09/17/2012

Candidates’ respective websites

Perhaps the most closely contested Hawaii political match-up in 2010 was the race to replace Neil Abercrombie in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The special election held that May, after Abercrombie resigned to run for governor, featured three well-known, experienced candidates and resulted in the state sending a Republican to Washington for the first time in decades.

Ed Case dropped out of the primary race not long after, allowing fellow Democrat Colleen Hanabusa to coast to the general election rematch against Djou, which she won by 6 percentage points.

Maybe you’ve heard: Hanabusa and Djou have a rematch this year, too.

But the race has been under the radar, overshadowed by a once-in-a-generation U.S. Senate race, the Honolulu mayoral runoff and Tulsi Gabbard‘s new rock star status in Hawaii’s other U.S. House race.

Yet, the 1st District election is important, too.

Given re-election rates for Hawaii’s congressional delegation — Djou is the only Hawaii incumbent to lose re-election — the winner will likely remain in the House for as long as they like and be considered a frontrunner to one day replace Daniel K. Inouye in the Senate.

And, while most political analysts consider the 1st District seat safely in the “blue” column, control of the House — initially thought likely to stay in Republican hands — is increasingly up in the air. Democrats would need to pick up 25 seats to wrest control.

On Thursday, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Steve Israel, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the odds of that happening have improved through the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate. As Israel put it, Ryan’s proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program is a “down-ballot disaster for Republicans across the country.”

As Politico reported on Friday, top Republicans are meeting with vulnerable lawmakers to ensure that the GOP does not lose the House.

So with all the national attention, why is Hawaii’s 1st District race so quiet?