Smiling candidate? Check. Photos with keiki? Yep. Red, white and blue background? Uh-huh. Prominently placed “Contribute” button? Duh.
By now voters in Hawaii’s 1st Congressional race might feel familiar with Charles Djou, Ed Case and Colleen Hanabusa, if only through the omnipresent campaign signs and TV, radio and print advertising. Less familiar, perhaps, are the candidates’ campaign websites, which are also revealing for what they say — and don’t say — about our politicians. Civil Beat takes a look.
The websites feature all the usual bells and whistles one might expect in a 21st century political campaign. There are tons of color photos, boilerplate position statements, gushy testimonials, spotless candidate bios, and links to blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and other new media.
But the pages for Djou, Hanabusa and Case are also more revealing about the candidates themselves.
Civil Beat took a tour of each web page on May 17, five days before the May 22 special election that will determine (at least for six months or so) Hawaii’s next congressional delegate. Note: There are 11 other candidates on the ballot.
First thing you see: Djou in an aloha shirt, the American flag, the dome of the U.S. Congress, and what appears to be Portlock in Hawaii Kai, part of Djou’s Honolulu City Council district.
Farther down the home page: Video titled “Charles Djou: Families First,” blog post (“Djou scores debate victory” by Charles Djou), tweet (“Yesterday’s press conference by frm governors shows the old guard’s frustration”).
Gushy testimonial: “It is amazing to me, that when I talk to people about Charles, their eyes light up as if I were giving them free money,” says Larry J. Lee.
Roots cred: His father was born in Shanghai and raised in Hong Kong. His mother was raised in Bangkok.
Did you know: “Djou” is a misspelled French translation of the Chinese surname “Zhou.”
What’s missing: His middle name is Kong. Though the bio states “Charles has spent most of his life in Hawaii,” it does not list his birthdate, Aug. 9, 1970, or birthplace, Los Angeles — not good for keiki o ka aina (child of the land) cred. And you won’t find pictures of Djou as a baby or growing up.
Platform: In 1,098 words, Djou names the economy, national security (“I currently serve as a Captain in the United States Army Reserve”), ethics, faith and family, education (In a May 1 blog post responding to a negative ad, Djou states, “I do not support firing teachers and have never said that I do”), energy and the environment and health care.
Fun fact: Djou has a video in which he instructs voters how to fill out ballots. Excerpt: “You have to fill out the bubble completely.”
First thing you see: The “USA” letters in the all-caps “HANABUSA FOR CONGRESS” are in red and crowned by stars. The candidate wears a blue blouse and black jacket. “Reform in Washington, Hope for Hawaii.” Sign-waving with Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.
Farther down the home page: A video titled “Mabuhay! Colleen Hanabusa at the Filipino Festival.” Campaign news: “I’m in this race to win.” Voting information.
Gushy testimonial: “Colleen Hanabusa is the smartest, most disciplined, strongest and ‘most Hawaii’ candidate. Period,” says Gloria Garvey.
Roots cred: Both grandfathers were interned during World War II. “Her Ojichan went to the mainland and Grandpa Muroda went to Honouliuli apparently for their work as founders of the Waianae Hongwanji Mission.”
Did you know: Lifetime Member in The National Registry of Who’s Who.
What’s missing: Her middle name is Wakako. No mention of Hanabusa’s age (she was born May 4, 1951), or the fact that she has been married twice and has no children.
Platform: In 1,399 words, it’s Afghanistan (“We need to understand that our nation’s public policy focus in Afghanistan is very different from that of Iraq”), fiscal responsibility (“My first priority in Congress will be to put people back to work and get our economy moving again”), health-care reform, making college more affordable, renewable energy, and the Jones Act (“I support the Jones Act”).
Fun fact: Ikebana, the Japanese art of formal flower arrangement, is “the basis for her respect for her elders and native Hawaiians.”
First thing you see: Case in a suit and tie, the dome of the U.S. Congress, the slogans “Send Ed back to Washington!” and “A Better Way Forward.”
Farther down the home page: A video titled “Straight talk from Audrey Case” (“The opponents of my husband are at it again.”) A tweet from the candidate: “Signwave marathon lunch break Aiea – http://bit.ly/9CV7Q8.”
Gushy testimonial: “In four years representing the Second District, Case demonstrated a commitment to the work that was nothing short of heroic,” says The Honolulu Advertiser.
Roots cred: “Born Hilo, Territory of Hawaii, September 27, 1952 … Grandson of Hib and Betty Case of Kauai (moved to Kauai 1919). Great-grandson of Judge Daniel and Kathryn Case of Maui (moved to Hawaii 1896; Maui 1903-1946).”
Did you know: Case spent a year as a “jackeroo” on a sheep-cattle ranch in Australia.
What’s missing: His middle name is Espenett — yes, Espenett. Other than that, Case provides copious amounts of detail on his background, including the names and ages of his grown children and the fact that he is on his second marriage.
Platform: A “What I Believe” section (882 words), an Agenda (980 words), 17 pages on his four-plus years in Congress (example: “Fought the closure of Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard by the BRAC Commission”), a link to a U.S. House database for info on his voting record, and about two dozen old e-letters (example: “Just the Facts: Response to Senator Inouye”).
Fun fact: There’s a baby photo of Case wearing only a diaper and standing in a stroller. He appears to have plumeria in each ear.