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Thursday, September 09, 2010
LA Times: Djou, youthful leaders reshaping Hawaii GOP
By Selected News Articles @ 8:19 PM :: 9453 Views :: Maui County, Education K-12, Energy, Environment, National News, Ethics

Excerpt from:  Obama's appeal gets a test on his home turf in Hawaii

Djou and the youthful new leaders reshaping the Hawaii Republican Party suggest that their opponents are living in the past and counting on tradition to overcome voter dismay with deficit spending, rising taxes and protracted economic crisis.

Traditional pro-union sentiments, kindled by brutal labor conditions that prevailed on big plantations before statehood, will have little influence on voters in November, Djou said.

"This particular congressional district voted Republican for the last four gubernatorial elections in a row," Djou, 40, said of voters in the greater Honolulu area. He calls it a myth that the district — one of only two in Hawaii — is entrenched Democratic turf.

Although Obama won 70% of his home district vote in 2008, the margin for Sen. John F. Kerry over President George W. Bush in 2004 was "hardly overwhelming," Djou argued. The Massachusetts Democrat won 52% to Bush's 48%.

As the newest member of the House Budget Committee, Djou has a platform for denouncing the huge debts being run up by the Obama administration. A captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, he is also on the House Armed Services Committee, a strategic position for a state where the military is second only to tourism in economic importance. He has also lobbied to revive the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea, a pact that portends an economic boost for Hawaii.

"I've only been in office 90 days, but I've still been able to do a lot," said Djou, a USC law school graduate of Chinese and Thai descent.

Even though Hawaii is a net beneficiary of federal tax dollars, Djou said he supports a moratorium on earmarks — he calls them "a gateway drug" — and an end to federal stimulus and bailouts.

Djou calls himself a fiscal conservative but moderate on social issues. He was one of only five House Republicans to support repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" legislation forcing discharge of military personnel if they are outed as gay, and he hails immigration as the lifeblood of Hawaii's economy and culture.

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