Sunday, May 23, 2010

Representative-elect Charles Djou: Mahalo, Hawaii!

Republican Charles Djou won the special election to fill the seat of retired Democrat Neil Abercrombie in Hawaii's First Congressional District.  Abercrombie stepped down to run for governor.  Due to Hawaii's rules for special elections and an intraparty squabble, Djou won a three-way contest in which Democratic votes were split between two candidates.  In November, the rules will be different and Djou knows it.  From The Christian Science Monitor:

But the Republicans will likely be careful not to tout the victory too loudly. Mr. Djou won with less than 40 percent of the vote, with two Democratic challengers taking 58 percent.

The rules change for the November election, and only one Democrat will be able to challenge Djou for the seat. Without two Democrats to split the vote between them, Djou knows that the math is against him.

"The voters gave us a short-term lease with an option to buy in November," Djou said, according to the Honolulu Advertiser.
Djou will be the first Republican elected to Congress in Hawaii in twenty years, and only the third since Hawaii become a state in 1959.  In case you linguists out there are wondering about his French sounding name, here's the explanation from his website:
People often ask from where Charles' last name, Djou, comes. Charles' father was born in Shanghai, China, and raised in Hong Kong. His mother was raised in Bangkok, Thailand. Charles was raised here in Hawaii. Yet, he has this odd, French-sounding, last name.

It started in the 1920's. Charles' grandfather worked for a French engineering firm in Shanghai. His grandfather's French boss, who spoke only French and Chinese, gave him the French name "Dijou" which roughly sounds like Charles' family's Chinese name, "Zhou." In 1948, during the communist revolution in China, Charles' grandfather fled to Hong Kong, which was then a British colony. Upon his arrival, the British asked Charles' grandfather to fill out immigration papers. Rather than write down his Chinese character, Charles' grandfather wrote down "Djou" - not knowing that this was actually French or that it was misspelled. Charles' father took this name to the United States, Charles was born with it and now you have a local Chinese guy with a French sounding last name.
Representative-elect Djou will have his work cut out for him between now and November.  Here's hoping he's up to the challenge.


  1. I expect that Hawaiians may identify with someone who looks like a native of the islands. You think?

  2. Actually, Djou's father is of Chinese descent. His mother is from Thailand. He was raised in Hawaii.