Could Obama's Hometown Hawaii District Go GOP?
Republican heavyweight Mitt Romney is getting behind the GOP candidate in an upcoming special election in Hawaii, giving yet another indicator of a close House race in a heavily Democratic district.
Democrats are split between their two candidates, former Rep. Ed Case and state Senate president Colleen Hanabusa, who are running to replace Democratic Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who stepped down to run for governor. The GOP is hoping to capitalize on the Democratic in-fighting, which some Democratic activists say has racial or gender overtones.
Romney is supporting the GOP candidate, Honolulu city councilman Charles Djou, with funding from his political action committee, Free and Strong America, the Washington Post reports. The Post adds that GOP Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is also supporting Djou indicating national interest in the election.
While most states hold separate party primaries or have state officials choose party candidates in the case of a special election, the Republican and both Democrats will all be on the same ballot in Hawaii's special election next month. The election will be conducted by mail and will end on May 22. The winner will represent Hawaii's first district, where President Obama was born and raised.
"The winner-take-all special election has the makings of a genuinely competitive three-way race, and President Obama's 70 percent share of the vote here - this is his native seat - belies this district's willingness to vote for the right kind of Republican," the Hawaii Republican Party wrote in a Facebook note.
A Mason-Dixon poll conducted for KITV-Star Bulletin in January gave one Democrat, Ed Case, a 13-point lead in the three-way race, with Hanabusa coming in second and Djou trailing. However, a recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) internal poll showed Case tied with Djou, the Republican, the Atlantic reports, citing an unnamed Democratic source with knowledge of the poll.
Democrats remain hotly divided over whom to support, with some saying national party interference in the election has been racially insensitive or sexist.
The DCCC has been quietly supporting Case over Hanabusa, Politico reports, citing unnamed sources. Those efforts reportedly coincided with the circulation of opposition research against Hanabusa.
Upon hearing reports of the DCCC's support for Case, the Asian American Action Fund released a statement saying, "The DCCC should focus the party on uniting Democrats and keeping this seat blue rather than dividing us and helping us defeat ourselves."
"It is unseemly for party officials to step into a special election with more than one Democrat, particularly in a district where 58 percent of the population is Asian Pacific American," Asian American Action Fund executive director Gautam Dutta said. "Imagine the disgruntled reaction were the DCCC to step into a contested special election in a predominantly African-American or Latino district."
Some female Democratic activists were also angered. Amy Siskind, president of The New Agenda, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls, wrote at the Huffington Post that the DCCC's actions represented "the latest on a long list of examples of the Democratic Party no longer standing up for, nor representing, women and women's issues."
Meanwhile, local political operatives have largely supported Hanabusa. Both of Hawaii's senators, Democrats Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, support her, as do major unions in Hawaii.
The AFL-CIO isn't backing down from its support for Hanabusa, continuing their campaign for this week with mail pieces directed to the Hawaii district's 52,000 AFL-CIO members and 30,000 Working America members, National Journal reports.
Popular in Politics
- FBI director acknowledges domestic drone use 122 Comments
- Obama and Berlin: Faded echoes meet new realities
- Smooth, on-time Obamacare rollout no sure thing: GAO
- Obama on NSA programs: Americans "not getting the complete story" 261 Comments
- House Republicans pass 20-week limit on abortions 456 Comments
- Immigration reform would cut deficit, analysis shows
- Senators: U.S. must take "more decisive" military action in Syria
- Obama renews push for a nuclear disarmament legacy