Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou, a Republican, is taking on Hawaii’s Democratic machine and running for Congress in a special election. Hawaii has not sent a Republican to the U.S. Congress in twenty years, and Mr. Djou could very well break that trend this year.
While two Democrats are also running for the same seat, nevertheless there is no primary, so the general election functions as a winner takes all race, and the Democratic Party will have to figure out how to rally around their candidates without Mr. Djou politically benefiting.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee attacked the Republican candidate for signing the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge, saying that Mr. Djou signed a pledge from a “special interest group” to “protect tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.” ATR has called these claims false. Grover Norquist, President of ATR, said in a telephone press conference yesterday:
“The pledge protects tax reform efforts from turning into tax increases or masking tax increases. People would send me ads from the Democratic Congressional Committee that was suggesting when one of the candidates in Hawaii took the pledge not to raise taxes, that somehow that would get in the way of eliminating a particular tax credit…absolutely not,” he said. “If you wanted to reduce rates on everybody else and raise to get rid of particular deductions of credit, its perfectly consistent but just not a stand alone tax increase.”
According to Mr. Norquist, this is the first time the ATR pledge is being attacked in a campaign ad. “The pledge is not new. Its not something that started last week. The language is clear itself. The actual wording of the pledge has been up since 1986.”
“When Democrats have taken the pledge in some cases, the unions have gone after them, but I don’t think they have gone after [the pledge] with ads. I can’t think of a case where a candidate has been attacked for promising no to raise taxes. It’s a unique approach to campaigning. It raises the question, ‘what taxes are you for?’
Mr. Norquist also pointed out that President Obama made his own personal pledge which was no tax increases on anyone who made less than $250,000 a year, but that there are about seven or eight tax increases on people who don’t fit into that category in the health care bill.
“Sixteen days into his presidency he signed a bill which raised taxes on tobacco users. It was a specific tax targeting lower income and middle income earners. Democrats will to have to explain why they want to get into conversations about pledges, since the one pledge that the president did take, they have repeatedly broken.”