By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Linda Lingle said yesterday she will run
for the Republican Party chairmanship.
The state convention will be held on
Kauai next month.
Lingle seeks state
The former gubernatorialBy Mike Yuen
hopeful vows she would not
run for office in 2000
Unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle is running for the state Republican Party chairmanship, calming the turmoil in party ranks over who should be its next leader.
Selection of Lingle at the state convention in Kauai next month is virtually assured, said Republican National Committeewoman Miriam Hellreich and other party leaders.
Lingle's announcement of her candidacy yesterday came as resistance was mounting to the candidacy of Bob Awana, the former Democrat who managed Lingle's gubernatorial campaign.
Although Lingle had given Awana's unofficial campaign her unqualified support, a movement to draft outgoing party Chairwoman Donna Alcantara for a second two-year term was under way. "It was serious," said Alcantara, who earlier had urged former House Minority Leader Quentin Kawananakoa and former Senate Minority Leader Michael Liu to consider becoming the party's leader.
Lingle said her decision to seek the chairmanship was not influenced by the resistance confronting Awana. Rather, it came two weeks ago during the state GOP's annual Lincoln Day dinner when Alcantara gave a "proud to be a Republican" speech that was a thinly veiled criticism of Lingle and Awana.
Like many others in the party, Alcantara was concerned that Awana's then-likely bid to succeed her was intended primarily to boost the political ambitions of Lingle, the former Maui mayor, and would mean diluting Republican principles to attract disenchanted Democrats and independent voters.
Lingle, who has said she would like to seek the governorship again, vowed that she would not run for office in the year 2000.
"I want to lead a Republican Party that welcomes everyone," Lingle said. "It will be a Republican Party that actively participates in the communities it represents. I want to build a Republican Party based on common concerns and shared goals, not on individual morals and religious beliefs.
"I am convinced that there continues to be widespread enthusiasm for change and new direction in our state. And I am equally convinced that change will not occur until we have at least two strong, healthy political parties."
With Lingle in, Alcantara, Awana and Kawananakoa said they're out. Earlier, Liu had said he wasn't interested in seeking the party chairmanship.
Alcantara said she has settled her differences with Lingle and is fully supporting her candidacy. Alcantara added she had encouraged Lingle to seek the party chairmanship after her narrow loss to Gov. Ben Cayetano in November.
Hawaii Democratic Party Chairman Walter Heen said the isle GOP will be getting "a glib spokesperson."
Lingle, Heen added, will be finding herself in an intriguing position. During the gubernatorial campaign, she minimized her GOP affiliation. "Now, she has to adhere to the philosophy and principles of the party. That is what she has got to champion," Heen said. "If she doesn't, what will the rest of the party do?"