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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Djou welcomed in Congress

 •  At least 5 seek to succeed Djou

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., welcomed newly elected Rep. Charles Djou, R-Hawai‘i, and his family yesterday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Djou was sworn in yesterday. From left: Djou, his daughter, Victoria, 7; wife, Stacey; daughter, Alexandra, 3; and Pelosi.

DREW ANGERER | Associated Press

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Charles Djou tells his new colleagues how grateful he is to have the "amazing privilege" of serving in Congress.


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Charles Kong Djou, the son of immigrant parents from Shanghai and Bangkok, swore to defend the U.S. Constitution yesterday as the newest member of Congress following an overnight plane ride from Honolulu.

Djou, who had represented the area from Hawai'i Kai to Waikīkī on the Honolulu City Council, won the special election for the 1st District seat vacated by 10-term Congressman Neil Abercrombie and left for the nation's capital Monday night.

Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawai'i, told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Djou's "certificate of election has not arrived but there is no contest and no question has been raised in regard to his election."

Djou, an officer in the Army Reserve, then stood with his 7-year-old daughter, Victoria, raised his right hand and swore to defend the Constitution "against all enemies foreign and domestic."

"Congratulations, Congressman Djou," Pelosi said, "you are now a member of the 111th Congress."

Djou won the winner-take-all special election that concluded Saturday over state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case, both Democrats.

Djou will now fill out the remainder of Abercrombie's term, which expires in January, but will have to run again in November.


Yesterday, he became only the third Republican since statehood to represent Hawai'i in Congress.

On the House floor, Hirono referred to Djou's name — a "unique French variation on a Chinese surname" — and recapped his educational and political background.

She also told House members that Djou attended the same school as President Obama, Punahou School.

"I look forward to working with you, Charles, to ensure that that the needs of the people of Hawai'i are met and that their voices are represented in the people's house," Hirono said.

With Djou's wife, Stacy Kawasaki Djou, and their other daughter, Alli, looking on from the audience, Minority Leader John Boehner referred to Djou's personal history as the son of immigrants.

"Charles understands what it means to pursue the American Dream because he's lived it," Boehner said.

As Victoria fidgeted by his side on the House floor, Djou greeted his new colleagues with a boisterous "Alooooha."

"Today," he said, "I am extraordinarily humbled to have the incredible honor of entering the United States House of Representatives, and I understand with this incredible honor comes incredible responsibility."

Djou thanked his supporters and referred to the "unique Hawaiian practice of (political) sign waving."

"I want all of the voters to know that every single day I have the privilege of serving them, I will never, ever forget the trust and confidence they have vested in me," he said. "... It is a testimony to the greatness of the United States of America that I, a son of immigrants from China and Thailand, have a privilege of calling myself a member of the United States Congress. It is a testimony to the greatness of our nation that had I been born in the home nation of either one of my parents, the idea of calling myself the maker of laws in my parents' home nation would have been laughable. It is because of the good fortune that I was born and call myself an American that I have this amazing privilege."

Djou then met Pelosi in her ceremonial office for a mock swearing-in that was captured by photographers before returning to the House floor to vote on five resolutions ranging from recognizing the 150th anniversary of the birth of food manufacturer Will Keith Kellogg to commending musher Lance Mackey on his record-breaking fourth consecutive Iditarod victory during the 2010 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.


Last night, Djou planned to stay with his wife and their two daughters at the Holiday Inn outside of Reagan National Airport before looking for a furnished apartment, said Djou's senior aide, Kenny Amazaki.

Their son, Nicholas, did not attend yesterday's ceremony so he could stay home in Hawai'i Kai to study for school finals, Amazaki said.

But Stacey and all three children will spend the summer in Washington, Amazaki said.

Even on the long flight from Honolulu to Washington, the family had to sit in different sections of the plane because they had booked their seats in a rush.

"Everything was so last minute," Amazaki said.

Djou probably won't be heavily involved in the search for an apartment, Amazaki said, because "he's so eager to get to work."

Today, Djou will focus on moving into Abercrombie's old office in the Longworth House Office Building adjacent to the nation's Capitol.

Next week, Djou hopes to find out whether he will be assigned to either of Abercrombie's old committees, especially the influential Armed Services Committee.

"There's a lot of work to be done," Amazaki said. "Charles will be here bright and early."


To see a C-SPAN video of Djou's swearing-in, go to http://www.c-spanarchives.org/program/ID/224890&start=11322&end=11932