Hawaii Primary Finalizes Midterm Landscape

Posted September 19, 2010 at 8:40am

Hawaii state Rep. Colleen Hanabusa cruised to victory over a little-known challenger in the Aloha State’s 1st district Democratic primary Saturday, as the nation’s last primary finalized the electoral landscape six weeks before the general election.

Hanabusa earned 79 percent of the vote against lawyer and Air Force Reserve veteran Rafael “Del” del Castillo, who got 21 percent, according to returns from the Associated Press.

Hanabusa will face Rep. Charles Djou in November, a Republican who won a mail-ballot special election in May in this heavily Democratic region. Hanabusa was also on the May special election ballot, but she and former Rep. Ed Case split the Democratic vote, allowing Djou to win the three-way race with only 39 percent.

President Barack Obama grew up in the Honolulu-based district, which he carried with 70 percent of the vote in the 2008 presidential election­ — his second-highest percentage in a district now represented by a Republican. The district was previously represented for 19 years by Democrat Neil Abercrombie. He resigned in February to run for governor and won the Democratic nomination Saturday with 60 percent of the vote.

Along with Louisiana’s 2nd district and Delaware’s at-large district, Democrats see the 1st district as one of the three GOP seats the party is most likely to pick up in November. However, Republicans in Washington have privately expressed confidence that Djou will be able to hold the seat despite the heavy Democratic lean of the district.