Hawaii’s special elections law could make it risky for the governor to appoint Hanabusa to fill Inouye’s seat. The free-for-all special election format could boost GOP chances.
• Case is not a party favorite, but that hasn’t stopped him from running before. He enraged local party elders in 2006, when as a congressman he challenged Sen. Daniel K. Akaka in the Democratic primary. He lost that campaign, plus another primary for Senate in 2012.
• Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz unsuccessfully ran to succeed Case in the House in 2006, when Hirono won the seat. He might run again, or he could wait his turn to run for governor when Abercrombie calls it quits.
• Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann has run for Congress a few times over the past three decades. He lost to Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat, earlier this year.
There are more Democrats who would consider the race, but the party just needs two to spoil its chances of keeping Hanabusa’s seat.
Their most likely GOP contender is Djou, who served for several months until being defeated by Hanabusa in November 2010.
“It is my belief that if there is an open seat, [Djou] would consider it,” said a Republican consultant who has worked in Hawaii.
The former congressman did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Democrats need a kingmaker to ensure they keep the seat, someone who could use political muscle to remove lesser competitors from the race.
Ironically, Democrats said there was only one official with that kind of power in the state: Inouye.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.