Republican wins seat in Obama's home district
Republicans won a Democratic-held congressional seat in Hawaii in the district where President Barack Obama grew up - the latest triumph for the party as it looks to take back control of Congress in the November national election.
But Democrats believe the success in Hawaii will be short-lived. The Republican winner will only serve through the remainder of 2010, and another election will be held in November for the next term.
Democrats are confident they can win the seat back in November because their vote won't be split among several candidates, as it was in the special election.
Still, Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou's victory on Saturday was a blow to Obama and other Democrats who could not rally around a single candidate and find a way to win a congressional race that should have been easy. The seat had been held by a Democrat for nearly 20 years and is located in the district where Obama was born and spent most of his childhood.
"This is a momentous day. We have sent a message to the United States Congress. We have sent a message to the national Democrats. We have sent a message to the machine," Djou said.
"The congressional seat is not owned by one political party. This congressional seat is owned by the people."
Djou received 67,610 votes, or 39.4 per cent. He was trailed by state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, a Democrat who received 52,802 votes, or 30.8 per cent. The other leading Democrat, former US Representative Ed Case, received 47,391 votes, or 27.6 per cent.
Republicans see the victory as a powerful statement about their momentum heading into November. They already sent a Republican to the US Senate to replace the late Senator Edward M Kennedy of Massachusetts - a state that was once thought to be the most hostile of territories for the party. Now Republicans can say they won a congressional seat in the former backyard of the president and in a state that gave Obama 72 percent of the vote two years ago.
"Charles' victory is evidence his conservative message of lowering the tax burden, job creation and government accountability knows no party lines. It is a message Americans want to hear from candidates across the country," said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen said the fact that the Democratic candidates together received over 50 per cent of the vote, "demonstrates that Democratic prospects are very good in November."
"This district is still, as stated, a Democratic district," Hanabusa said, pointing to the combined Democratic vote of 58 per cent.