After sailing through the primary election, Republican Charles Djou opened his campaign headquarters on Sunday.
He faces Democrat Mark Takai in the race for Hawaii’s First Congressional District.
Djou held the seat for about six months after a special election in 2010. He says that experience gives him an edge.
“Five thousand miles away from Washington, D.C. It’s very easy to forget about Hawaii. And if we elect yet another freshman and put him in the minority, Hawaii is going even more isolated and easier to ignore. I’m going to be that outspoken voice in the majority caucus here that’s going to be able to deliver effectively for the people of Hawaii,” Djou said.
State Rep. Takai says he also brings experience to the table.
“We’ve got 20 years of experience in the legislature. My priorities have been as a legislator focusing on women, working families, the environment, education, and of course, the military,” Takai said.
Takai believes he’s done well at the state level and wants to do the same in the U.S. Congress.
“We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve brought in $40 million of federal funds helping our schools, working in partnership with our military and our Department of Education. No else can say that. We did it over a six-year period and we’re very proud of that,” Takai said.
Djou says his record shows he can work with both parties.
“You don’t have to just take my word for it. You can look at my record of being a moderate. Of somebody who’s worked with both Republicans and Democrats who like to get things done. Because for me, it’s not about the party. It’s about people and getting things done for the people,” Djou said.
Looking ahead to the General Election, it could be a close race.
“Charles, again, I don’t think is going to pick up a lot of negatives. Mark Takai’s not picking up a lot of negatives,” said John Hart, political analyst and Hawaii Pacific University Communications Chairperson.
“I believe as we go through the next 80 days and start talking about what we’ve done and what we will do, we’re gonna be able to educate the voters of our Congressional district and they’ll continue to support us,” Takai said.
“For me, it’s always about Hawaii first. Hawaii always. Not about my political party. And that’s also something that I think distinguishes my campaign and a message we look forward to bringing to the voters,” Djou said.
The seat was vacated by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who was defeated in the primary election for U.S. Senate.