NPR logo Dems Split Vote, GOP Wins In Obama's Home District

Election 2010

Dems Split Vote, GOP Wins In Obama's Home District

Charles Djou, a Republican city councilmember from Honolulu, has won the special congressional election in Hawaii's 1st Congressional District vacated by Democrat Neil Abercrombie, who resigned to focus on his gubernatorial campaign.

Djou won when the top two Democrats — former Rep. Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa — refused to make way for the other and insisted on staying in the race.  The resulting split of the Democratic vote allowed Djou to win the seat with just under 40 percent of the vote.  Hanabusa received 31 percent and Case 28 percent.

President Obama, who was born in the district, took 70 percent of the vote in his 2008 election.  No Republican has won a congressional seat in Hawaii since Patricia Saiki was re-elected in 1988; two years later she was defeated in a bid for the Senate.

Djou's victory shifts the bragging rights to the GOP from the Democrats, who were touting their win in Pennsylvania's 12th CD on Tuesday, a seat the late John Murtha (D) held for 36 years.

What helped Djou win — the split among the Democrats — is the opposite of what happened in New York's 23rd CD last November, when a moderate Republican and a Conservative Party candidate split the vote, thus paving the way for Democrat Bill Owens to win the historically GOP seat.