A peek at Lingle’s Senate strategy

Former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle is still coy on whether she’ll run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Daniel Akaka next year, but in a speech last week she gave clues to the strategy she’ll follow if she takes the plunge.

According to a report by Derrick DePledge in the Star-Advertiser, she’s aligning herself with a group of former governors from both parties who have been a moderating force in the Senate.

“Governors bring a particularly different approach in the United States Senate than those people who have come just from the legislative side,” Lingle, who is considering a Senate campaign, told a luncheon sponsored by the conservative Grassroot Institute of Hawaii at the Japanese Cultural Center.

“They are less ideological. They are more practical. They are more agenda driven. They are able to put forth something they’d like to achieve and then move to do it because as governor you have to. You can’t hide behind a lot of other people.”

In other words, she’ll argue she can give Hawai‘i a voice in the Republican caucus that seems on the ascent in Congress, while at the same time working to moderate the strident conservatism of the GOP caucus that alienates many voters in this strongly Democratic state.

It’s similar to the strategy she followed in 2002 to become Hawai‘i’s first Republican governor in 40 years, de-fanging her Republicanism enough to successfully compete for moderate Democrats and independents in defeating then-Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, now a congresswoman who is running for the Senate.

The other Democrat who has announced for the Senate is former U.S. Rep. Ed Case, another veteran of the 2002 governor’s race who will argue that he’s better positioned than Hirono to hold the moderate Democrats and independents against Lingle.

Of course, much has changed since 2002; Lingle served eight controversial years as governor while Hirono has served quietly in Congress and avoided controversy. Case is still fighting the demons from his ill-timed run against Akaka in 2006.

Lingle has been enough of an ideological chameleon that she can portray herself anywhere on the spectrum she wants.

She campaigned for conservatives such as former president George W. Bush and the 2008 ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin, but has avoided embracing either the tea party agenda or the social agenda of the religious right.

On local issues, she’s also hard to pin down. She supported the Akaka bill hated by conservatives, but opposed the latest version that contains amendments proposed by the Obama administration. She let the excise tax for O‘ahu rail become law, but held up the project with a lengthy review of the environmental impact statement. She vetoed civil unions, but was careful not to join conservatives in demonizing gay couples.

She’s shown a talent in previous campaigns for framing the issues around her strengths, and Democrats would make a mistake to take her lightly because of early polls showing her far behind.

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9 Comments on “A peek at Lingle’s Senate strategy”

  1. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    …and the 2002 ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin…

    Uhhh – unless you’re referring to a race on another planet, the McCain/Palin ticket was in 2008

  2. Richard Gozinya Says:

    It only seems like it has been going on that long.

  3. hipoli Says:

    Dear Governor Lingle: Go Away. Everyone still hates you. Wait the required ten years, write a book, and then maybe people will temporarily forget all the reasons they hated you when you were Governor.

    Thank you.

  4. jt Says:

    I disagree – not everyone hates her.

  5. Teddy Freddy Says:

    She will be a formidable candidate and at the end of the day, the race will be very, very close.

  6. Hugh Clark Says:

    I believe voters have a memory longer than Linda’s supporters think, inlcuding some Republicans

  7. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    … and the 2010 ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin…

    Have I gone binancas? I swear that the last Presidential election was in 2008!

  8. David Shapiro Says:

    I don’t know what’s with my years memory today. Thanks for the cx.

  9. Hawaiino Says:

    I’ve supported both Lingle and Case in the past, but never Hirono.
    I swore off Lingle during her last term, many of her appointments were horrible. Neither she or her staff were approachable, or answerable.
    I swore off Case after his post-Akaka breakfast no show. It’s one thing to fight the good fight (and lose), but in politics you can’t be a sore loser without reprecussions. Pay attention to this Djou!
    With this race I have to get off the fence and take back my swearing, ’cause there is no way I want another place-holder or do-nothing in this seat, that’s you Mazie.
    I’m definitely going with Ed.


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