Report from COOK: As Congressman-elect Charles Djou is about to get sworn in the Cook Political Report gives the race in HI-01 a rating of “toss up.”

KEY EXCERPT:

Hawaii will hold the latest primary in the nation on September 18th. And just because only one Democrat will emerge to face Djou on that date doesn’t mean Hawaii Democrats’ civil war will end… Democrats have their work cut out for them. President Bush’s 47 percent share here in 2004 and GOP Gov. Linda Lingle’s big majorities in 2002 and 2006 show that HI-01 is open to voting for the right kind of Republican, especially when Democrats are a mess.

Djou Wins: HI-01 November Race Begins as a Toss Up

By the time Democrats decided to abandon ship and “save resources for November” rather than wade into a messy intra-party special election fight, more than half of ballots had been cast by mail and the election had already been lost. But their smart sacrifice allowed Republican Charles Djou to cruise into HI-01 with nearly 40 percent of the free-for-all vote, with state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa taking 31 percent and Democratic former Rep. Ed Case taking 28 percent. Contrary to what some on the Democratic side are saying, Democrats’ combined 60 percent share of the vote doesn’t make Djou a dead man walking in November. While he joins Louisiana GOP Rep. Joseph Cao in the Toss Up column, Djou begins his time in the House with a much stronger chance of winning a full term.

Hanabusa’s surprising 31 percent second place finish to Djou should only embolden the state’s more liberal Democratic kingmakers, like Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, to double down for her in the fall. National Democrats saw Hanabusa’s flaws (such as her husband’s business ties and her flubbing of the legislative pay raise issue) early on in the special election and insisted only former Democratic Rep. Ed Case, not Hanabusa, would be electable. But Inouye and Akaka’s desire to punish Case for challenging their political hegemony in the state prevented them from going along. If anything, Hanabusa’s second place finish will bolster the senators’ argument that the national Democrats got it wrong. Case has decided to run again in the primary, and if he loses to Hanabusa or a more liberal candidate, it’s highly plausible roughly half of his voters would fall to Djou, getting the incumbent to more than the 50 percent he needs.

The general election, which will be conducted at polling places rather than by mail unlike the special election, begins as a Toss Up.

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