Djou, longtime 'loyalist,' stuns with decision to leave Republican party

Djou, longtime 'loyalist,' stuns with decision to leave Republican party
Published: Mar. 19, 2018 at 12:49 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 19, 2018 at 4:42 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One of Hawaii's most prominent Republican figures is leaving the GOP, and he's blaming the president for his departure.

In an editorial published early Monday in Honolulu Civil Beat, former Congressman Charles Djou said he will "abandon my party because I am unwilling to abandon my principles" and "can no longer stand with a Republican Party that is led by a man I firmly believe is taking the party of Lincoln in a direction I fundamentally disagree with, and a party that is unwilling to stand up to him."

While Djou's departure is a major blow to the Hawaii Republican Party, the party's chairwoman says it's not that surprising.

"Charles has been very vocal about his opposition to the president and the president's agenda. He was a Republican stalwart for so much and fought against a one party system for so long, so we wish him the best, but our party is going to be just fine," said Shirlene Ostrov, Hawaii GOP Chair.

For Colin Moore, HNN political analyst, he said he was a "bit shocked" at Djou's announcement given that he's been seen as a staunch party loyalist.

"It really is another example of how the Republican party is dying in this state," Moore said. "Charles Djou is the best known Republican in Hawaii."

In the Civil Beat editorial, Djou condemned President Trump's hostility to immigration, his threats of trade wars and offensive comments toward Arizona Sens. John McCain, Jeff Flake and other members of Congress.

But what he said he was most disappointed in was the GOP's failure to condemn Trump's "childish behavior."

"Sadly today, too many Republicans either applaud Trump's tirades or greet them with silent acceptance," he wrote.

He added he won't accept it and will not be a part of it, but didn't say whether he would seek to join a different party or become an independent.

Hawaii News Now has asked for additional comment from Djou, but a representative said he's out of the country on a family vacation and wanted the Civil Beat article to stand on its own.

On his social media accounts in recent months, Djou has been a vocal opponent of Trump's policies. But he hasn't posted about his decision to leave the Republican Party.

Moore suspects Djou may be considering another run for office.

He believes Djou could be a competitive candidate in the race for Congress, but says it all depends where he ends up.

"Given Charles Djou's past, I think it might be difficult for him to join the Democratic party even if he wants to. He is the best known Republican in Hawaii so he may be more comfortable being an Independent, if he does run for elected office again," Moore said.

Djou is the second high-profile Republican in Hawaii to renounce his party affiliation.

In May 2017, state Rep. Beth Fukumoto announced she was leaving the Republican party and becoming a Democrat over concerns about the president. Fukumoto had faced condemnation in her party after publicly criticizing Trump in a speech at the Women's March in Honolulu.

The Hawaii Republican Party, meanwhile, called Fukumoto's defection a betrayal — and a disservice to her constituents. They'd urged her to instead resign.

This story will be updated.

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