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GOP leader promises Djou key money post

By B.J. Reyes

LAST UPDATED: 9:33 p.m. HST, Oct 21, 2010

U.S. Rep. Charles Djou would be in line for a coveted committee assignment if he wins his re-election bid and if Republicans take control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said yesterday that Djou has his "full support" for a seat on the House Appropriations Committee.

"Charles would fight to curb government spending while working to ensure the Pacific Fleet, defense installations and military personnel in Hawaii have the resources they need to help keep America secure," Boehner said in a statement released by the National Republican Congressional Committee, the party's political organization charged with winning seats in the House.

The Appropriations Committee controls the purse strings in the House. U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Djou is locked in a tight race with Democratic state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa for Hawaii's 1st Congressional District. Recent polls show the race in a statistical tie.

National parties have taken an interest in the race as both seek a controlling majority in the House. Democrats believe they can flip the seat, once held by Neil Abercrombie and located in President Barack Obama's former hometown.

Most forecasts predict the GOP will take control of the House. If that happens, Boehner is poised to become House speaker. As speaker, he would have prominent sway on committee assignments.

"I look forward to working with him (Djou), the Republican leadership and the Steering Committee to place him on the House Appropriations Committee at the earliest possible opportunity," Boehner said.

In a statement, Djou said he would support a balance budget amendment and a moratorium on earmarks.

"I believe that we need to reform the earmark process and the way that the Congress spends the people's money," Djou said. "As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I look forward to working with Sen. Inouye, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to reform the earmark process and ensure that our priorities receive adequate funding."

Djou sits on the Budget and Armed Services committees.

Political analyst Neal Milner said it is not uncommon for freshman members to be appointed to such a prominent committee.

He said the statement of support from Boehner is indicative of the closeness in the race.

"I think the signal is that the Republicans are willing to go out on a limb a bit here because they think they really have a shot at getting this seat," said Milner, a political science professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "It's not unprecedented, but it's not something you do every day, because that's a coveted committee."

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