HONOLULU — Former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou of Hawaii has announced that he will run for Congress again, hoping to fill the seat that Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will vacate as she runs for U.S. Senate.
Djou’s campaign confirmed his candidacy Thursday.
Djou, a Republican, represented Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District for seven months from 2010 to 2011 after he won a three-way special election. While in office, he served on the House Budget and Armed Services committees.
But he lost his seat to Hanabusa in the 2010 election, and was defeated by her again when he ran in 2012.
Djou said Hawaii needs politicians who will create jobs and ensure that Hawaii residents can afford to live in the state.
But as a Republican, he’ll face a tough road in a heavily Democratic district, said Neal Milner, a retired University of Hawaii political science professor.
“The more fundamental problem is he ran a very good campaign last time, and he still got beaten pretty badly,” Milner said. “The real question is, what is it that he can do better than he did the time before?”
Djou is a major in the U.S. Army Reserve. After serving in Congress, he was deployed to Afghanistan.
Before his stint in Congress, Djou was on the Honolulu City Council. He also served in the Hawaii House of Representatives as minority floor leader.
“He’s a real good candidate,” Milner said. “He’s got good strong Republican principles without having the off-putting, religious intolerance baggage.”
Hawaii Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and human rights activist Kathryn Xian, both Democrats, also are running for the seat.
Competition among Democrats may be the only way Djou could win, said Carlos Juarez, chairman of the department of social sciences at Hawaii Pacific University. When Djou won the seat previously, it was because of divisions in the Democratic party, Juarez said.
“It will remain a battle to the end for who’s going to get that (Democratic) ticket,” Juarez said.
“For so many years, the congressional elections were a done deal. There was no competition,” Juarez added. “But now … we’re just seeing a lot more competition, more options, more possibilities.”