Longtime Hawaii US Representative Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) is running for governor, and has decided to abandon his seat early, setting off a two-party scramble to fill it in a special election. The National Republican Campaign Committee sees it as a prime opportunity to grab the seat.
A special election is mandated by Hawaii law that may occur no sooner than 70 days after the House seat officially opens up. But there are no primaries beforehand – it’s a free-for-all format that currently favors the Republicans.
That’s because their candidate to fill Abercrombie’s seat — Charles Djou – is unopposed. The Democrats have two experienced candidates battling it out: State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and former US Rep. Ed Case.
The district went very strong for Barack Obama in 2008, but a three-way race with Democrats splitting the vote and a significant number of independents going for Djou could throw the seat to the Republicans.
Abercrombie’s retirement is not yet official, but an announcement is expected soon.
RBR-TVBR observation: This could lead to a triple dip election in Hawaii’s First District for broadcasters with political air time to sell. There could be a Republican special election win, a Democratic primary and a general election battle all in one year.