Charles Djou

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Updated May 2017

Former Congressman Charles Djou is one of Hawaii’s most notable Republicans.

A lawyer, 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 Honolulu mayor against incumbent Kirk Caldwell.

Contents

The Basics

Charles Djou is a former U.S. congressman and 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.

History/Career

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 Colleen Hanabusa and many other candidates.

That special election victory made him only the third Republican from Hawaii to serve in Congress since statehood. But served in Congress for just seven months, as Hanabusa, a Democrat, 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.

In 2014 he ran against Democratic nominee Mark Takai, who won but later died while still in office.

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.

Charles Djou
Both Mayoral Candidates Ask: Better Off Than 4 Years Ago? Chad Blair/Civil Beat

Both Mayoral Candidates Ask: Better Off Than 4 Years Ago?

Mayor Kirk Caldwell steals challenger Charles Djou’s frequently asked question, but supplies very different answers.

Djou, Caldwell Make Pitches To Native Hawaiian Audience Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Djou, Caldwell Make Pitches To Native Hawaiian Audience

The Honolulu mayoral candidates appeared before the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.

Honolulu Mayoral Candidates Vie For Coveted Kupuna Vote Anthony Quintano / Civil Beat

Honolulu Mayoral Candidates Vie For Coveted Kupuna Vote

The city's high cost of living and public safety are on the minds of AARP Hawaii members, who shared their concerns during a "tele-town hall" Saturday morning.
9/11 Becomes Boiling Point In Honolulu Mayoral Debate Cory Lum/Civil Beat

9/11 Becomes Boiling Point In Honolulu Mayoral Debate

UPDATED: The city faces major contemporary challenges, but Caldwell and Djou battled over the response to the 2001 terror attacks.
Djou To Skip PBS Honolulu Mayoral Debate With Caldwell Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Djou To Skip PBS Honolulu Mayoral Debate With Caldwell

The challenger's campaign said it never confirmed it would participate, but the station said otherwise.
Honolulu Misuses Hanauma Bay Funds, Nonprofit Group Claims Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Honolulu Misuses Hanauma Bay Funds, Nonprofit Group Claims

UPDATED: Despite a court order and pledges from city officials, admission fee revenue is still used improperly, says Friends of Hanauma Bay.

Why Is Ron Taketa Still On The Honolulu Police Commission? Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Why Is Ron Taketa Still On The Honolulu Police Commission?

Mayor Kirk Caldwell won’t talk about why he’s not either replaced or reappointed the carpenters union leader.

Djou Rakes In Campaign Cash, Caldwell Spends Heavily Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Djou Rakes In Campaign Cash, Caldwell Spends Heavily

The latest campaign finance filings in the Honolulu mayor's race were made public Friday.
Djou: No Tax Increase For Honolulu Rail — Yet Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat

Djou: No Tax Increase For Honolulu Rail — Yet

The mayoral challenger says he wants to explore other options before considering whether to extend the tax that goes to pay for rail.
Caldwell, Djou Headed For Runoff In Honolulu Mayor’s Race Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Caldwell, Djou Headed For Runoff In Honolulu Mayor’s Race

The mayor barely outpolled his primary challenger, but neither candidate garnered a majority of the vote, so they both advance.
How Will Honolulu’s Next Mayor Pay To Finish The Rail Project? Cory Lum/Civil Beat

How Will Honolulu’s Next Mayor Pay To Finish The Rail Project?

UPDATED: Kirk Caldwell, Peter Carlisle and Charles Djou have ideas for completing the rail line but no one is sure where the money will actually come from.
How Ethics Commission Upheaval Is Playing Out In The Mayor’s Race Cory Lum/Civil Beat

How Ethics Commission Upheaval Is Playing Out In The Mayor’s Race

Months of political haggling at the Honolulu Ethics Commission have created fertile political ground for opponents of Mayor Kirk Caldwell.