HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The 2012 campaign season promises to be a colorful one - as Hawaii candidates vie for either an open Senate or House seat - or to challenge current Congressmembers. The latest politician to throw his hat - back - in the ring: Republican Charles Djou.
"I have decided, after considerable discussion and thought with my wife and family, to run for the United States House of Representatives for Hawaii's first Congressional district," Djou announced.
When he left office at the end of last year, it seemed like Djou's political career was over. In a December 31st, 2010 news conference, he said, "Currently, I have no plans to run for any political office ever again."
But, since then, the 41 year old says the tenor in DC has gotten worse. "I don't think there's sufficient bi-partisanship going on in Washington that I was very proud to characterize and (there's) a lack of independence. And that's what I want to change."
The Republican does not align himself with Tea Party members, though some analysts say he sometimes sounded like one. Instead, Djou calls himself a centrist - which pundits believe - is crucial for a win.
"If he gives just a 'no-taxes-it's-all-about-the-deficit', that routine, I don't think he will win. Can he win? Yes, I think he can win, but he's got to show the kind of flexibility, intellectual flexibility, and move toward the middle in this," says Hawaii News Now political analyst, Dan Boylan.
If politicos weren't that surprised by his campaign announcement, the news that followed was unexpected.
"I will be serving our nation in Afghanistan … I have been mobilized and I will deploy with the 10th Mountain Division," he announced. The 10 year Army Reserve Major is mobilizing as an individual solider with the light infantry division based out of Ft. Drum, New York. He can't say where, exactly, in Afghanistan he'll be deployed, but, as a JAG officer, he'll serve as legal advisor to the Afghan judiciary and police It's his first deployment to the Middle East, and he's slated to be there from early September to next March.
It's unclear how his absence will affect his campaign. Boylan says, "You always need a candidate who is there and visibly running and doing all the things you have to do to run. That will hurt. But it certainly doesn't hurt, either, to wrap yourself in the flag as a soldier,"
While the timing may raise some eyebrows, Djou says he, in no way, engineered this deployment to score political points. While he's away, his team will do all the campaigning and fundraising.
In response to the announcement, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa - who currently represents Hawaii's first district and is a member of the House Armed Services committee - sent her best wishes to Djou saying in a statement, "This is a reminder of the sacrifices made by so many Hawaii residents who are called to serve. We will be hoping and waiting for their safe return."