Add one more special election to the list:
U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie announced today that he is resigning from Congress to run for governor full time….
The resignation will trigger a special election to fill the remainder of Abercrombie’s current congressional term which ends January 2011. The seat will also be up for grabs in the general election in November for the next two-year term.
This may not be too much of a surprise (although Abercrombie in April said he wouldn’t resign his seat), as Abercrombie needs to spend a lot of time in Hawaii to win the race, and that’s a rather long commute from Washington DC. This decision doesn’t affect the overall electoral calculus much, as Abercrombie was already in the middle of his last term, as he can’t run for House and Governor at the same time. On the Democratic side, state Senate president Colleen Hanabusa and ex-Rep. Ed Case are already running to succeed Abercrombie; Honolulu city councilor Charles Djou is running for the Republicans. Assumedly, they will all choose to participate in the special election, although they could choose to run only in the regularly scheduled election.
Abercrombie hasn’t set his final day in office, so the date of the special election won’t be known for a while. (I’m wondering if we could have a weird circumstance like Abercrombie’s first election to the House, where on the same day he won the special election to take over the House seat but lost the Democratic primary for the full term.)
UPDATE: If the special election held in 2003 to replace Patsy Mink (which is how Ed Case won) is any indication, it looks like Hawaiian special elections are just one big pool of people from all parties, with the first-past-the-post winning the whole thing (instead of a primary and then a general). If so, that could set up a weird scenario where Djou narrowly wins the special election because Hanabusa and Case split the majority of Democratic votes (say 40% Djou, 35% Hanabusa, 25% Case).
LATER UPDATE (James): In the comments, local SSPer skaje makes the case that the special election will only hurt Djou’s chances by splitting the right-of-center vote with Ed Case. It’s an interesting argument, and I have to admit that this thought crossed my mind. There’s no denying that Case has based a lot of his appeal on his position on the rightward side of Hawaii’s political equilibrium, but whether or not we see Republican-leaning voters splitting may end up hinging upon the type of campaign that Case chooses to run.
LATE LATE SHOW UPDATE (David): When would a special election occur? Essentially, whenever the Chief Election Officer wants to. According to Hawaii statutes, the only requirement is that the “CEO” must conduct a special election within sixty days of making a proclamation that there will be a special election. But the law is silent as to how soon such a proclamation must be issued. Indeed, CEO Kevin Cronin says that his department is strapped and that there may not even be a special election, or may be delayed until the September primary. Another wrinkle is that Cronin recently announced he was stepping down at the end of this month, so the decision may not fall to him.
RaceTracker Wiki: HI-01