I spoke with Colleen Hanabusa and Charles Djou last week for articles about how their professional lives outside of politics would shape their actions inside Congress.

Just like their careers taught them important lessons, my conversations with the candidates taught me a lot about them. There were a few similarities and differences worth highlighting:

  1. Both Djou and Hanabusa are lawyers. That’s hardly rare among politicians. The American Bar Association said that 36 percent of those in Congress were attorneys as of 2006. But it’s clear that Djou and Hanabusa have done vastly different things with their law degrees.

  2. As the stories’ headlines indicate, both have experience working on utilities — Hanabusa on power lines and Djou on phone towers. Interestingly, Hanabusa was fighting against the construction of overhead lines while Djou was fighting for the construction of towers. They’re not exactly parallel, but that tells you much of what you need to know about where the candidates’ allegiances lie when it comes to business.

  3. Djou and Hanabusa first ran for for public office in the same year — 1998. But they were at very different points of their lives. Hanabusa was 47 and more than 20 years into her career, having already established herself as one of Hawaii’s top lawyers. Djou was clearly ambitious at 28 and just two years out of law school. That 20-year head start means Hanabusa’s resumé is considerably longer.

  4. Hanabusa’s self-described mentor was a notorious labor leader. Djou’s was the last Republican to represent Hawaii in Congress.

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