BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Former Congressman Charles Djou confirmed yesterday that he will run for Hawaii’s First Congressional district in 2012, but there is a twist in this story.
He is being deployed to Afghanistan this September right after Labor Day for at least 6 months.
Djou, who is a JAG officer in the Army reserve, is the only member of his unit being deployed.
He will meet up with a unit from New York, the 10th Mountain Division, and work Afghan police and judges on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border to enhance their justice system.
Former Republican Congresswoman Pat Saiki is helping Djou.
While he is away, Djou will have to rely on his campaign volunteers to continue his fundraising efforts. He will not be campaigning from the Middle East or checking in with his volunteers. He’ll have to raise at least seven figures, he said. During the last campaign, Djou raised $2.6 million and his Democrat opponent, Colleen Hanabusa, brought in $2.4 million.
Djou, a Republican, would again challenge Hanabusa. She currently holds that seat, unless Hanabusa decides to run for U.S. Senate.
This is the third time that Djou will run for the U.S. House seat. In May 2010, Djou entered a special election that pitted him against two prominent Democrats, Congressman Ed Case (2002-2007) and then Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.
Djou won the special election in May, but lost the House seat by 6 points just six months later in the General Election to Hanabusa.
The special and general elections were contentious. The airwaves were filled with attack advertisements on both sides. Hawaii’s Senior Senator, Daniel Inouye, personally helped Hanabusa campaign.
In response to questions from reporters yesterday, Djou made several points.
He said he is not a member of the Tea Party. Djou was rated one of the two most moderate members of the U.S. House during his 6 months in office. There needs to be collaboration and less partisan fighting in Washington, Djou said. He calls himself a “centrist.”
He held his campaign press announcement in a Kalihi warehouse surrounded by his family, friends and supporters. The location was selected to emphasize his campaign focus on creating jobs and boosting the economy.
Djou, who did not support President Obama’s stimulus plan, said jobs are not created by government spending or tax increases but through small businesses.
In Djou’s government career in the Hawaii State Legislature, the Honolulu City Council and in the Congress, he has never voted for a tax increase.
Djou’s wife Stacey and his daughters Alli, 4, and Tori, 8, were by his side when he made his announcement. His son Nick, a recent graduate of Punahou School, has already left for college. Stacey said is extremely proud of her husband for his service in the military and his choice to run for public office.