Ex-governors warn against Djou


POSTED: Monday, May 17, 2010

Showing a united front in a party that has been described as divided, Hawaii's last three governors, all Democrats, warned yesterday that the election of Republican Charles Djou to the U.S. House would be a setback for Hawaii.

John Waihee, who served as the fourth governor of Hawaii from 1986 to 1994, described the possible election of the city councilman as “;a nightmare.”;

Ben Cayetano, chief executive from 1994 to 2002, said Djou's election would blunt the congressional delegation's effectiveness because he is “;walking lock step with the national Republicans against everything that (President Barack) Obama is trying to do.”;

And George Ariyoshi cast Djou as a wild card.

Djou's campaign is based on negatives, Ariyoshi said, “;but you don't know what he stands for.”;

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Jonah Kaauwai, chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party, called the former governors' news conference “;a last-minute attempt to hold onto power by people who have shown us how bad things can be when they have it.”;

In the written statement, Kaauwai said the governors are responsible for Hawaii's “;broken political system”; and want to continue wasteful spending and high taxes in Washington.

He said the Democratic Party assumed Hawaii voters would vote for any Democrat but is concerned because Djou's message has resonated with residents.

“;The Hawaii Democrat Party has taken Hawaii voters for granted,”; Kaauwai said.

Djou, who represents Hawaii Kai on the Council, said the 1st Congressional District seat is not owned by the Democratic Party or the unions.

“;This seat is owned by the people, and I look forward to their judgment on May 22,”; he said.

That is when the mail-in ballots will be counted in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Neil Abercrombie, who is running for governor.

None of the governors stated a preference yesterday for the two Democratic candidates—state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case—at party headquarters at Ward Center.

However, Waihee declared his support for Hanabusa on Saturday at a campaign rally and news conference. Cayetano indicated his support for Case in an October Star-Bulletin interview. Ariyoshi, the nation's first governor of Asian-American ancestry (1974-86), has kept mum.

Polls have shown Djou leading Hanabusa and Case, but with Democrats out-polling Republicans.

Cayetano recalled that Hawaii Republican Pat Saiki held a U.S. House seat from 1987 to 1991.

“;But she was a moderate, unlike Djou, who is marching lock step with conservatives,”; Cayetano said.

This was the second time the three have appeared on the same platform. Two months ago they called for a school board appointed by the governor rather than the currently elected one.

Star-Bulletin reporter Rob Shikina contributed to this report.