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  • Hawaii 1st Congressional District: Takai Defeats Djou

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Democrat Mark Takai has defeated Republican Charles Djou in the race to represent urban Oahu in Congress for the next two years.

    With all precincts reporting Tuesday evening, Takai was up over Djou, 51 percent to 48 percent. Djou picked up a little ground in the third wave of results that were released just after 10 p.m. but not enough to flip the results.

    “We started this race Aug. 7, 2013 — 15 months ago,” Takai told supporters at the Japanese Cultural Center in Moiliili, where Democrats gathered to celebrate their big night. “An absolute marathon. A long, long race. It actually felt like sprinting every single day.”

    Mark Takai speaks to supporters after winning a seat in the U.S. Congress.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    Takai thanked Djou for a campaign that he said focused on issues. He also said the race was about values — about caring for keiki and kupuna.

    Takai concluded by thanking his family and said he looked forward to working with a united Democratic congressional delegation on behalf of Hawaii. 

    Djou gave a heartfelt concession speech to a roomful of supporters at his campaign headquarters in Kalihi moments after calling Takai to congratulate him.

    “I believe that we needed bipartisan representation in our delegation. I believe that our government needs change and that this one-party system is failing us,” Djou said. “But while I believe in all of these things, I also believe that we live in a wonderful nation. And one of

  • Civil Beat Poll: Takai-Djou Race Too Close To Call

    · By Chad Blair

    Democrat Mark Takai and Republican Charles Djou are headed for a photo finish in the race for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.

    The candidates are tied at 45 percent each, with 9 percent of the electorate still undecided — even with election day just one week away.

    Matt Fitch, executive director of Merriman River Group, which conducted The Civil Beat Poll, said recent elections give an indication of where this contest might be headed.

    “We’re seeing similar trends from how Djou has fared in previous elections and how Takai fared in the primary,” he said. “Takai got stronger closer to Election Day. Djou is a very formidable Republican candidate in a very tough district, but he’s got a ceiling. He was able to win it once in a three-way race, but the other times he came up a little short.”

    Charles Djou and Mark Takai shake hands at end of a candidates forum, Sept. 23.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    Third Time a Charm?

    The three-way race was when Djou defeated Democrats Ed Case and Colleen Hanabusa in a May 2010 special election to fill out the remainder of the term of Neil Abercrombie, who resigned to run for governor. There were 11 other candidates on the ballot in the winner-take-all bout, but each collected less than o.5 percent of the vote.

    Case elected not to run against Hanabusa in the Democratic primary that year, and Hanabusa went on to defeat Djou by 6 percentage points in the general election. In a rematch with Djou two years later, Hanabusa won by 9 percentage points.

    Hanabusa’s unsuccessful challenge against

  • Hawaii Candidates for Congress Fundraise to the Finish Line

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Mark Takai needed more campaign money — and he got it.

    The Democratic candidate for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District raised just over $200,000 — including $85,000 from political action committees, or PACs — during the first half of October, according to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission.

    His Republican opponent, Charles Djou, pulled in $72,000 but outspent Takai by almost $82,000 during the same 15-day period.

    Charles Djou and Mark Takai share a laugh during a congressional debate at the Plaza Club in Honolulu on Sept. 23.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    With 12 days until the general election and the race still too close to call, the candidates are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into TV, print and radio ads. 

    Absentee ballots have gone out and early walk-in voting started Tuesday at select polling places in each county. Each day closer to the Nov. 4 general means fewer potential voters for the candidates to attract.

    Djou, a former Honolulu City Councilman and state lawmaker who served for seven months in Congress in 2010, may have raised a lot less money recently, but he has far more cash on hand heading into the home stretch. 

    Takai, who’s served in the Legislature for the past 20 years, had $189,168 on hand as of Oct. 15, compared to Djou’s $416,014. How their campaigns choose to spend that money during this critical period will likely play a role in who wins.

    Djou has raised $925,181

  • Ad Watch: Takai Plays the Veterans Card. Again.

    · By Chad Blair

    Editor’s Note: It’s an election year and that means lots of political commercials. Ad Watch is an occasional Civil Beat series in which we help you understand what you’re seeing and hearing when it comes to campaign messages from Hawaii candidates.

    There will be no more statewide televised debates between Democrat Mark Takai and Republican Charles Djou before Nov. 4.

    To learn more about Takai, the state representative, and Djou, the former state representative and former Honolulu City Councilman, running for the 1st Congressional District many voters will have to rely on mailers and television commercials.

    There is no shortage of those, as seen in these latest ads for CD1 candidates. In the first, Takai, a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard, reminds us of his dedication to veterans:

    Takai is playing the veterans card — something he did during the primary — and he’s playing it very well. It’s hard not to get a little weepy seeing veterans tear up over the loss of their own veteran sons.

    As explained in the video, the Hawaii Medal of Honor was Takai’s idea as a state representative. It may well catapult him to the U.S. Congress, where he would join fellow veteran Tulsi Gabbard, who’s heavily favored to win re-election.

    In fact, Gabbard tweeted out the news of the latest ad: “@MarkTakai is running in a tough election and needs your support. Watch & hear from these two veterans.”

    OK, that TV ad is about Takai the Veteran. Here’s another one of Takai the Dad:

    Nice spot: family, beach, Medicare, education, the middle class, Democrat for Hawaii.

  • Takai Campaign Raises More Money, But Djou Has More Cash on Hand

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Democrat Mark Takai has raised and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars more than Republican Charles Djou in their tight race to represent urban Oahu in Congress for the next two years.

    But Djou had more than twice as much cash on hand in his campaign account — $626,191 to be exact — at the end of the most recent reporting period with the Federal Elections Commission.

    With absentee ballots in the mail and early walk-in voting set to start Tuesday, Takai and Djou have their campaigns operating at full speed. Expect an uptick in political ads on TV, sign-waving on street corners and appearances at community events as the Nov. 4 general election rapidly approaches.

    State Rep. Mark Takai, left, is running against former lawmaker Charles Djou in the 1st Congressional District race.

    Civil Beat composite

    The 1st Congressional District candidates’ quarterly campaign finance reports, due Wednesday, show each raised significant sums of money from a wide range of sources between July 20 and Sept. 30.

    The campaign donations came from family members, real estate agents, physicians, attorneys, developers, businessmen, retirees and veterans — mostly from Hawaii but also from the mainland.

    Takai spent $451,085 during the reporting period, 2.4 times more than Djou. Takai’s total spending this election now nears $1 million.

    “This campaign is more than just dollars and cents, we are a real team from our donors to our volunteers knocking doors and sign waving. Together, we will continue to work hard to bring our message to the voters of Hawaii,” Takai said

  • Djou Says He’s a ‘Pragmatist’ Ready to ‘Get Things Done’ for Hawaii

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Editor’s Note: Civil Beat sat down with Mark Takai, Charles Djou’s Democratic opponent, in September. Read the story from that interview here.

    Charles Djou is so close to possibly winning a seat in Congress that he can almost smell the cherry blossoms that will be blooming next spring in Washington, D.C.

    With less than a month until Election Day, he and his supporters have the campaign running at full tilt — from candidate forums and coffee hours to phone banking and sign waving.

    Djou, a Republican running against Democratic state Rep. Mark Takai, arrived at Civil Beat’s office Tuesday afternoon for an hourlong editorial board meeting confident and prepared to share his thoughts on Hawaii’s high cost of living, the military, Micronesians and political partisanship.

    Congressional candidate Charles Djou discusses Hawaii’s high cost of living during an interview with Civil Beat.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    It’s the third time Djou, 44, has tried to return to the 1st Congressional District seat he held for seven months after winning a special election in 2010. But it could prove to be the charm.

    Djou had a 4 percentage point lead over his opponent in Civil Beat’s September poll. And he’s maintained a huge fundraising advantage since Takai plowed through his campaign funds to win a hotly contested primary.

    While the candidates have a lot in common — middle-aged family men who grew up in Hawaii, served in the military and have years of experience in elected office

  • Hawaii Candidates for Congress Seek More Money as Election Nears

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Republican Charles Djou and Democrat Mark Takai are making last-minute pitches for more money as their tight congressional race enters its final 35 days.

    They have until Oct. 15 to submit their quarterly campaign finance reports to the Federal Elections Commission, but Tuesday marked the end of the fundraising period.

    Both candidates vying to represent urban Oahu in Congress for the next two years want to make a big showing when the reports become public next month. Not only is it important in order to keep TV ads on air and mailers going to people’s homes, but the dollar figures will demonstrate the strength of their campaigns.

    Charles Djou and Mark Takai shake hands at end of a candidates forum, Sept. 23, 2014.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    Takai and Djou have sent a flurry of emails to campaign supporters over the past several days touting their past accomplishments, making broad promises, insinuating negative aspects about their opponent and asking for more cash.

    On Tuesday, they each urged their supporters to donate $25, $50, $100 or even more before the midnight deadline.

    “I need help to show strength at the end of the quarter,” Takai wrote. “Your support now could very well keep mainland Republicans from becoming involved in our local decisions.”

    “We’re facing a well-funded opponent, who has the backing of the old boy network and special interests in Washington,” Djou wrote. “Based on their track record, we’ll likely be fighting misleading ads from our opponent’s allies in these final weeks of the campaign.”

    Djou

  • Takai Says He Wants to ‘Knock Some Sense’ into Congress

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Editor’s Note: Civil Beat plans to sit down with Mark Takai’s opponent, Republican Charles Djou, in early October, which was his earliest opportunity.

    Mark Takai is tired.

    He woke up at 3:30 a.m. Thursday to start calling people on the East Coast about his bid for Congress, reaching out to labor organizations for support and thanking others who helped him win the Aug. 9 primary over six other Democrats.

    Takai has worked the equivalent of a full day before arriving at Civil Beat’s office for an hourlong Editorial Board meeting later that morning. He has a luncheon with a business group to go to immediately afterward, a blessing at his new campaign headquarters in the evening and a staff dinner that night.

    Congressional candidate Mark Takai discusses Hawaii’s high cost of living during an interview Thursday at Civil Beat’s office in Honolulu.

    Nick Grube/Civil Beat

    But he isn’t complaining. And he doesn’t let his sleep-deprived state affect his ability to provide long, thoughtful answers to questions about bringing down Hawaii’s high cost of living, the military, Micronesians and political party allegiance.

    That’s because he’s also tired of business-as-usual in Washington, D.C. The 20-year veteran of the Hawaii Legislature wants to “knock some sense into them.”

    It would be a whole new type of exhaustion, attempting to break through partisan paralysis as a freshman Democrat in the GOP-controlled House. But he’ll deal with that challenge if and when he gets there.

    His focus for the next two months is

  • Chad Blair: Republicans on Parade

    · By Chad Blair

    I’ve seen this parade before.

    Dozens of hopeful candidates from diverse walks of life, hopeful, excited, sporting banners and signs and buttons and T-shirts and stickers and websites, all believing this will be the election year that Hawaii elects more than a token representation of Republicans.

    I saw this parade just two years ago, when Linda Lingle and Charles Djou went down to defeat in runs for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

    I saw it as well in 2010, when Djou lost his re-election bid for the 1st Congressional District, Cam Cavasso was beat by the unbeatable U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye and Duke Aiona was felled in a gubernatorial landslide caused by Democrat Neil Abercrombie.

    Future governor, congressman and lieutenant governor? From left, Duke Aiona, Charles Djou and Elwin Ahu.

    Chad Blair/Civil Beat

    Some of the very same Republican candidates crowded the Kapiolani Park Bandstand on Saturday afternoon at a party unity rally, including Aiona, Djou and Cavasso again running for the same top seats.

    Same goes for state House of Representatives candidates Julia Allen and Carole Kauhiwai Kaapu, who failed to depose Democrats Calvin Say and John Mizuno in 2010 and 2012 but are back at it again.

    “A couple of weeks ago, friends, we had a hurricane here, and I’m not talking about the rain.” — Charles Djou

    Indeed, Allen, who can be seen sign-waving most election-season mornings at the corner of Waialae Avenue and St. Louis Drive, also ran against Say in 2004, 2006 and 2008. Say is no longer House speaker, but he

  • Djou vs. Takai: An Early Look at the 1st Congressional District Race

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Mark Takai and Charles Djou have much in common. They’re middle-aged family men who grew up in Hawaii, serve in the military and have years of experience in elected office.

    But there are fundamental differences between the two candidates that will help urban Oahu voters decide Nov. 4 who they want to represent them in Congress for the next two years.

    The race to replace U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who left her post for an unsuccessful Senate run, is shaping up to be competitive. Djou is anxious to return to a seat he briefly held and Takai is looking to take his long political career in the Legislature up to the next level.

    Former lawmaker Charles Djou, left, is running against Rep. Mark Takai in the 1st Congressional District race.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    Funding will be a factor as they try to attract thousands of potential voters in the 1st Congressional District — a socially, culturally and economically diverse area of Oahu that ranges from Kapolei and Pearl City to Honolulu and Hawaii Kai.

    Djou, 44, has the most campaign cash on hand with almost $440,000 as of July 20. He’s been able to stockpile money after sailing through the Aug. 9 primary without a serious competitor.

    As a result, Djou has an almost three-to-one financial advantage over the 47-year-old Takai, who spent more than $500,000 to beat six other Democrats in the primary.

    Donations are pouring into both camps, though, as

  • Hawaii Congressional Districts: Takai Triumphs

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Voters have given state Rep. Mark Takai the nod over Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and five other candidates vying for the Democratic slot in the 1st Congressional District race.

    With most precincts reporting by early Sunday morning, Takai was the winner with 43 percent of the vote, 52,719 people casting their ballots for him. Kim had 27 percent, followed by Honolulu City Council members Stanley Chang at 10 percent, Ikaika Anderson at 6 percent and Joey Manahan at 4 percent. State Sen. Will Espero had 4 percent and human rights advocate Kathryn Xian had 3 percent.

    Takai will face Republican Charles Djou in the Nov. 4 general election. Djou easily defeated Allan Levene with 91 percent of the vote.

    State Rep. Mark Takai smiles during an interview with KITV after early election results showed him with a huge lead, Saturday, at Ferguson’s Pub in downtown Honolulu.

    Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

    The crowd at Kim’s campaign headquarters at Ward Plaza was subdued after early election results were announced. A few dozen supporters had been all smiles, waving their blue “Donna Mercado Kim” signs for live TV news reports. But it was more about the great spread of local food after seeing her down 18 percent early in the evening.

    Takai’s election-night headquarters in the courtyard at Ferguson’s Pub was packed most of the night. Several dozen supporters wore their white campaign T-shirts and carried matching signs, cheering when he made appearances with his family.

    Just before 10 p.m., Takai walked with his family down a tunnel of

  • Republican Djou Leads CD1 Money Race as Democrats Slug It Out

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Republican Charles Djou now has more campaign cash on hand than any other candidate running in the 1st Congressional District race, according to pre-primary reports filed Monday with the Federal Elections Commission.

    The reports, which cover July 1 through July 20, show Djou has a $64,000 edge over Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, a frontrunner among the seven Democrats vying for the seat. He has $439,707 in his campaign war chest.

    One other Republican is running, Allan Levene, but Djou is expected to win by a large margin in the Aug. 9 primary. This has allowed Djou to save his campaign money for the Nov. 4 general election battle, presumably against Kim or state Rep. Mark Takai.

    Charles Djou, Republican candidate for Congress.

    Contributed photo

    The Democratic race has been hard fought between the two. Kim and Takai spent heavily — almost five times as much as the other candidates — to lure undecided voters in July.

    Kim spent the most at $228,777, primarily on advertising and polling. She still has $375,424 cash on hand.

    Takai was not far behind in expenditures. He spent $223,513 during the three-week period, mostly on ads. But his campaign account is down to $165,331.

    The other Democratic candidates didn’t spend near that amount. Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson was the third-biggest spender at $98,492, followed by fellow council members Stanley Chang, who spent $52,127, and Joey Manahan, who spent $2,808. 

    Chang, who still has $179,232 on hand,