Sunday, May 23, 2010

Republican victory in Hawaii shows majority of voters still seeking change

     Saturday, Hawaii voters elected Republican Charles Djou to Congress over two Democratic challengers. However, the Democratic candidates weren’t the only losers in the hard fought special election.

     Forty-eight year incumbent Senator Daniel Inouye put everything on the line to provide unprecedented support to his chosen candidate, Colleen Hanabusa. In the end, voters turned their backs on the Senator’s influence, with Hanabusa earning less than a third of the total votes cast.

     In the wake of the defeat, the Senator tried to focus attention on the Democrats earning a combined total of nearly 60% of the vote.  However, that logic ignores the fact that an even larger number, nearly 70%, voted against the efforts of the powerful Senator and his far-reaching political machine.

     Even so, Inouye has the well-earned respect of many of Hawaii’s voters, leading some to consider him safe from the anti-incumbent fever sweeping the country. However, Hanabusa’s poor showing is a clear indication that the Senator may face strong opposition from two very different sources in his upcoming bid for re-election.

     Republicans are the obvious threat with candidates like Djou making headlines across the nation. But in the heavily Democratic state of Hawaii, another threat has gone largely unnoticed. There are many Democratic voters who remain highly energized by the election of President Obama. Many of them question whether incumbents like Inouye and loyalists like Hanabusa, will be able to champion the kinds of change that inspired so many of them in 2008.

     If a candidate can capture both the support of those Democrats and Hawaii’s center right Republicans, Senator Inouye may find himself the target of a new coalition of voters seeking change from both sides of the aisle.

Andy Woerner
Candidate for U.S. Senate - Hawaii

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