Charles Djou is a former U.S. congressman and until March 2018 was one of Hawaii’s most prominent Republicans.
He is a former Hawaii Republican Party vice chair and a former state legislator. He served for eight years on the Honolulu City Council.
In 2016 he mounted an unsuccessful bid for mayor against incumbent Kirk Caldwell.
Djou was born Aug. 9, 1970, in Los Angeles. He graduated from Punahou School and holds a B.A. in political science and a B.S. in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Djou also has a law degree from the University of Southern California Law School.
Djou has practiced business law, was an adjunct at the William S. Richardson School of Law and is an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.
In 1998, Djou ran unsuccessfully for the District 47 seat in the Hawaii House of Representatives. He was the vice chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party from 1998 to 1999, and then ran for the House seat again in 2000, this time successfully. He served as minority floor leader.
In 2002 Djou moved from his Windward Oahu district to East Honolulu to run for the Honolulu City Council. He was re-elected in 2006 and limited to two terms.
On the Council, Djou was chairman of the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee and a member of the Public Infrastructure, Budget and Public Services committees.
Djou’s eight years on the Honolulu City Council were distinguished by his opposition to raising taxes, his opposition to the city’s plan to build a rail system, and his efforts to reduce the presence of homeless camps in city parks and beaches.
In May 2010, a special election was held to fill the vacant seat of Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District. In a winner-take-all race, Djou beat Democrats Colleen Hanabusa and Ed Case and many other candidates.
That special election victory made him only the third Republican from Hawaii to serve in Congress since statehood. But he served for just seven months, as Hanabusa defeated him in the 2010 general election to serve a full two-year term.
When Djou announced he was running again for the seat in August 2011, he also told of his plans to deploy to Afghanistan as a U.S. Army Reserve soldier for six months beginning in September. He served as a rule of law military adviser to help the Afghan National Police and the Afghan judiciary comply with laws.
He was the 2012 Republican nominee for the 1st District seat, but he again lost to Hanabusa. When Hanabusa ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2014, Djou again sought the same seat but lost to Democrat Mark Takai.
He then lost to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell in 2016 in a nonpartisan race that centered on the controversial rail project. Caldwell supports its completion, but Djou had been critical of large cost overruns and project delays.
Having lost multiple consecutive elections in a state dominated by Democrats, Djou’s political future is uncertain.