Can Djou break on through?
He is affable, quotable and one of the sharper knives in the drawer, but can City Councilman Charles Djou bust through the conventional wisdom of Hawaii politics?
The fact is, no one in the 48-year history of the state of Hawaii has defeated an incumbent member of Congress. Even Patsy Mink, who died before the election, was re-elected to Congress.
Now Djou is cranking up a campaign to challenge Rep. Neil Abercrombie for the first congressional district, running from Hawaii Kai in the east to Mililani and Ewa Beach in the west.
The race is not too risky for Djou. He is finishing his second and last four-year term on the City Council, and will return to the Council if he doesn't win next year.
Although he is conceding nothing to Abercrombie, Djou is saying he is also planning on running for Congress in 2010, either as the incumbent or a GOP challenger.
Next year's race is interesting on several levels. First, if Djou falls victim to the congressional incumbency protection plan and does not win, the race has value as a political test.
It also gives everyone interested in 2010 a good view of Abercrombie's strength and the depth of whatever anti-Abercrombie vote resides in the first congressional district.
The race does Djou nothing but good, as it prepares him for 2010, gives his supporters a chance to map out the district, and lets him find out if there are friends Ewa of Bishop Street and feel out the timing needed for a congressional campaign.
That 2010 campaign year is shaping up to be a perfect storm of politics and Djou and Abercrombie are likely to be big players.
Abercrombie might not say anything on the record about a 2010 race for governor, but his supporters and most of the Democratic establishment have penciled in the volatile Democrat as a gubernatorial candidate three years from now. So Djou would have a shot as a moderate Republican running for Congress.
The Democrats are expected to fill the field just as they did last year when Ed Case ran unsuccessfully for the Senate instead of the second congressional district seat.
If Djou wins the GOP primary, he would face either another member of the City Council, Mayor Mufi Hannemann or one of at least a dozen members of the state Senate.
The district has a GOP history, it supported and elected GOP stalwart Pat Saiki, so it is reasonable to figure that Djou's early planning is this year's smart move.