Djou clarifies that race not over
By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer
Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou yesterday sought to pull back from comments he made to a Capitol Hill newspaper describing the special election for Congress as "pretty much over."
"Mathematically, it becomes next to impossible (for Democrats) to win this race unless you stuff the ballot box," Djou, a Republican, told The Hill, a Washington, D.C., newspaper that covers Congress.
Djou, who is leading former Congressman Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa in public and private polls, later clarified that he does not believe the campaign is over.
"Ed Case and Colleen Hanabusa are merely threatened by my winning message of lower taxes and fiscal responsibility," Djou said in a statement. "This race is far from over and during the next nine days I will leave no stone unturned."
Dylan Nonaka, Djou's campaign manager, said Djou was referring to the fact that he is leading in the polls at a time when most voters who intend to cast ballots in the winner-take-all special election have likely already voted.
The state Office of Elections said yesterday that 38 percent of the 317,000 eligible voters already have turned in their ballots. In previous all-mail special elections for Honolulu City Council, the bulk of the votes were cast within the first week or so after ballots were mailed out.
Case and Hanabusa, the leading Democrats in the race, jumped on Djou's comments.
"Charles' victory announcement reveals his arrogance and disrespect for the voters," Case said in a statement. "But this is the real Charles Djou we've been pointing to all along: a puppet of the far-right D.C. establishment and not for all Hawai'i.
"The more voters see the two faces of Charles Djou, the more they're figuring out he's the wrong fit for Hawai'i in Congress. He knows it and can feel it slipping away."
Hanabusa, in a statement, said she would respect the voters' right to make up their own minds. "This race is far from over. I trust voters more than I trust polls," she said. "The only poll that counts is the one that's going on right now, where the voters themselves say who they want to represent them in Congress."