Djou and Hanabusa On The Issues

Candidates' respective websites

Colleen Hanabusa and Charles Djou ran in three separate elections — a special, primary and general election — for the 1st Congressional District just two years ago.

Folks who paid close attention to the 2010 contests may remember Djou, the moderate Republican who held the seat briefly after winning the special election, for talking a lot about his opposition to taxes.

They might remember Hanabusa, the liberal Democrat who won the seat in the general, for talking a lot about island values.

Two years later, it's a rematch, with both candidates facing only token opposition in the Aug. 11 primary. In the shadow of hot races for the U.S. Senate and Honolulu mayor, the contest has been very quiet.

Djou, a former state legislator and Honolulu council member, and Hanabusa, a former state Senate president in her first term in Congress, lay out their different experiences and views in answering Civil Beat's candidate surveys. The issues addressed include dealing with debt and deficit reduction, halting global warming and helping island infrastructure through federal support.

We also asked how they would work successfully in a U.S. House of Representatives so sharply divided along partisan lines. It was the 2010 election, after all, that sent the tea party to Washington.

In such a climate, how would Djou and Hanabusa reach out to colleagues to craft and pass legislation? Both said the answer lies with leaders who can work across the aisle.

"I believe the challenge facing the current Congress has been that too often, politics have replaced principle at the center of disagreements," said Hanabusa. "The individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, for example, began as a Republican proposal; for reasons of politics, opposition to the mandate has grown into a political talking point for that party's faithful."

Hanabusa acknowledged how the disagreements have made it very difficult to accomplish much: "The biggest challenge facing Congress is still the partisan atmosphere that prevents action in so many of the areas in which we should be more productive."

Djou did not seem as concerned, stating that the solution to gridlock is bipartisan representation.

"If elected, I will never forget that I work for the people of Hawaii, not any political party or special interest," he said. "During my term in Congress, the National Journal rated me as one of only nine truly 'centrist' members of Congress."

Of note: Djou served in a House controlled by Democrats, while Hanabusa serves in one controlled by the GOP.

One other observation from our surveys: Hanabusa's answers are generally much longer than Djou's — a total word count of 1,885 versus 705.

Longer is not necessarily better than shorter, of course — or the reverse. But it does provide some insight into these two candidates: Hanabusa, for example, likes to consider the complexity of issues while Djou reaches concise, clear positions.

That same pattern, by the way, was evident in the survey answers both candidates provided Civil Beat in 2010. Read Djou's 2010 answers here and Hanabusa's 2010 answers here.

The CD1 candidates' answers to our 2012 survey, meantime, are linked at the end of this article.

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