Wednesday, November 6, 2002


Linda Lingle and Duke Aiona declared victory as the newly elected governor and lieutenant governor of the State of Hawaii just after midnight.


Lingle, in second try, will be
state's first woman governor

GOP strategy helped win

By Richard Borreca

Linda Lingle is Hawaii's first woman governor and will be the first Republican to hold the office in 40 years. Lingle, the 49-year-old former Maui mayor, is joined by political novice and former Family Court Judge James "Duke" Aiona as lieutenant governor.

The Lingle-Aiona ticket gained 197,009 votes, or 51.56 percent, vs. 179,647 votes, or 47.01 percent, for the Democrat ticket of Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and state Sen. Matt Matsunaga, according to the final tally.

"We have a very big responsibility to deliver for the people of Hawaii," Lingle said in a victory speech to a jubilant crowd at her Ala Moana headquarters just after midnight. "The most important message is our commitment to work with all the people of Hawaii. We face some very tough challenges in the year ahead."

Starting her run after her narrow loss to Gov. Ben Cayetano four years ago, Lingle drove a focused campaign aimed at that stronghold of the Democratic Party, the office of governor. The state's last Republican governor was William Quinn, who lost the office in 1962.

While Lingle won by 17,362 votes and her victory was not official until after the 11:30 p.m. election-results printout, she and Aiona said early this morning that they knew yesterday afternoon they would win.

Lingle supporters rejoice after receiving word that their candidate had a 3,000-vote lead after the second printout last night.

The sign came during one of Lingle and Aiona's bus caravans that covered Oahu twice in two days.

"It was at a rally at Costco in Hawaii Kai, an old Japanese lady came up to us," Aiona said. "She looks at us and she says, 'Don't fail me.' She said it twice and then started crying."

"Linda and I looked at each other and kind of choked up too and we hugged her and she said it again, 'Don't fail me,' and that is when we knew," Aiona said.

For observers, another sign that the vote was going Lingle's way came shortly after the second printout, when the state's public safety officers who protect the governor moved several plain clothes officers to Lingle's headquarters and took up positions in the crowd of more than 1,000.

In her campaign, Lingle stressed the need to change the state government, emphasizing the state's poor economy and public schools, plus the number of Democrats convicted or indicted in the past four years. Lingle was aided by a concerted fund-raising effort that resulted in her outspending Hirono 2-to-1.

Newly elected Gov. Linda Lingle and Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona shared a moment at Lingle headquarters after their victory was announced.

In her first interview as governor-elect early this morning, Lingle talked about the internal strategy of her campaign that came from meetings held after her 1998 defeat.

"We said, if we were ever to have the chance to run again, how would we win. And we identified the need for a strong party structure and we set out a strategic plan. We identified all the things we did wrong," Lingle said.

For instance, four years ago she didn't have a strong paid staff, she stopped the community "talk story" sessions too early and she lacked sufficient funds. "I predicted we would need $5 million and yesterday we went over the $5 million mark, 15,000 individual donations," Lingle said.

She also courted union endorsements, figuring that because the police union had a change of leadership, they could win their endorsement. Lingle also kept the University of Hawaii professors endorsement.

Another secret to the campaign was the coordinated get-out-the-vote campaign that involved identifying all the voters likely to support Lingle and making sure they got to yesterday's polls.

Linda Lingle and Duke Aiona made their first appearance of the night at her campaign headquarters after results from the second printout showed them with a lead.

After the third printout showed Lingle decisively ahead, Cayetano urged fellow Democrats to respect the Republican victory.

"Those of us in public office have a greater duty to make things better for everyone. I hope they will work with her," Cayetano said.

Lingle won Oahu, Maui and Hawaii, losing only Kauai County, a Democratic stronghold. Hirono watched the election returns from her temporary headquarters at the Blaisdell Center.

Shortly before midnight, Hirono came out to address her supporters. "There is a lot to do, and tomorrow is another day," she said.

"Linda, I know you are going to do your very best for the people of this state because you now represent all of us.

"You need to put your best foot forward, and I know you are going to do the very best, because if I were in your shoes, I would do the same thing," Hirono said.

Supporter David McEwan couldn't believe the news as he heard Gov. Ben Cayetano announce that Mazie Hirono lost.

One disappointed Hirono supporter found solace in yesterday's historic election.

"I never thought I would live to see two women run for governor," Delphina Fuller said. "If we have to have a woman who is a Republican for governor, I hope she knows how to help us, the little people on the island."

Cayetano, who won back-to-back elections but was never able to win a majority vote, saw Lingle win with just more than 51 percent of the vote. He said that Hirono and the Democrats were outmaneuvered.

"Strategically, the Democrats allowed Lingle to control the change agenda," Cayetano said.

"When they kept talking about the Hawaii economy, they should have been pointing to the mainland economy and what a bad job George Bush does, compared to here where our people are working," Cayetano said.

While the top job in state government goes to Republican Lingle, the state Legislature remains solidly Democratic.

Mazie Hirono gave thumbs up after the second printout even though she was about 3,000 votes behind Linda Lingle. At right is running mate Matt Matsunaga.

In her interview with the Star-Bulletin, Lingle said she plans to first meet with state auditor Marion Higa to discuss "areas that we can cut waste the quickest and make the biggest improvements the fastest."

Lingle also wants to meet with the leaders of the state Legislature as soon as the House and Senate can get organized.

"I want to talk about scheduling the budget, because the way it is written, it is as if the same party will always be in power. The inauguration is Dec. 2 and the budget is due the 16th, that is not realistic," Lingle said.

She said she expects to be able to work with the Democrat-controlled Legislature because the voters have "taken a major step and I don't think they will have much patience for partisanship."

But Lingle said she plans to fully engage the Legislature with her own priorities.

"I will need to involve the public a lot more than someone of the same party. I will need them to be involved in the idea I take down, testifying or writing letters or getting the media to highlight certain thing.

Supporter Acela Garcia gave Hirono a hug after her concession speech.

"I think the governor should have to go down and explain proposals ... I think this helps the general public end up with better government.

"And I just don't think the public will be very patient -- the governor's term is four years and the House term is two years, it is something they are going to have to consider," Lingle said.

Also the governor-elect said she wanted to start work on transition issues, something that Cayetano has promised to do.

"We want to look at the issues, any major legal issues such as settlements that are pending, last minute contracts. The financial audit of the books is going to be very important," Lingle said.

Although courtesy resignations for board and commission members are usually expected at the beginning of a new state administration, Lingle said she wasn't planning to replace current board members until their terms expires.

"I didn't do that as mayor, I allowed people to serve out their terms, but I look forward to involving a lot more people in government," she said.

Finally, viewing the state results this morning, Lingle smiled at the change on Maui, where Republican Alan Arakawa beat incumbent Democrat James "Kimo" Apana.

"It is a sweet vindication because Mayor Apana had spent four years saying what a mess he was left (when Lingle left office). He was a part of generating all that false publicity coming out of Maui, so we are happy about that," Lingle said.

Star-Bulletin reporters Mary Adamski
and Diana Leone contributed to this report.


Sound strategy

GOP poll watchers calling voters
from precincts draw Democrat protests

By Craig Gima

Linda Lingle's victory in the governor's race was ensured by a massive get-out-the-vote effort that identified almost every potential Lingle-Aiona voter in each precinct and used Republican poll watchers to make sure they voted.

The effort drew loud protests from Democrats, who called it unethical and said they were looking at possible legal action against Republicans. "It's a clear violation," Lorraine Akiba, state Democratic Party chairwoman, said yesterday. "They did electioneering at the polls."

Official poll watchers from each party are allowed to monitor the election at each precinct. Republicans had watchers at every precinct, who were also armed with lists of likely Lingle voters. If the Lingle voters did not show up at the polls, GOP poll watchers called a command center at Lingle campaign headquarters, where phone-bank volunteers reminded people to vote.

Akiba accused Republicans of "disrespect for the law and the sanctity of the polling place."

Republicans maintained their effort was perfectly legal.

Bob Awana, Lingle's campaign manager, said the inspiration for the effort came from get-out-the-vote efforts he was involved in while working for Democrats like former Gov. George Ariyoshi.

"I used to admire the guys (in charge of the getting out the vote for the Democrats)," Awana said. "They were really good at it."

Akiba said Democrats used labor union phone banks and phone banks in each county to identify and get out their vote, and helped seniors and others get to the polls, but she said their efforts were "totally ethical."

Democrats filed a formal complaint yesterday afternoon against Republican poll watchers.

The state Attorney General's Office said the poll watchers could continue to monitor the election, but asked them to make phone calls away from the polling places. Akiba said Democrats were looking at their options to see if further legal action would be taken against the Republicans and their poll watchers. "After the elections are over, we'll definitely be looking at the next step, if in fact further action was necessary."

Shelton Jim On, an attorney for the Lingle campaign, said the law prohibits sign waving and soliciting votes within 200 feet of a polling place, but he said there is nothing illegal about making a phone call.

Awana said the get-out-the-vote effort began four years ago, after Lingle lost the gubernatorial election to Ben Cayetano. "We didn't have anything like this in '98," Awana said. "We vowed that we would have in place for this election a plan to turn out our votes."

Republicans began identifying supporters and collecting names, addresses and phone numbers, putting the numbers into a large computer database. "We had to build our voter file from scratch," Awana said.

Two years ago they used the strategy on a small scale to get out the vote in key state House races to help candidates like Guy Ontai, Mindy Jaffe, Charles Djou and Joe Gomes get elected, he said.

For this year's governor's race, the GOP put together an army of 2,574 volunteers for the final day. Twenty-five drivers took voters to the polls if they did not have transportation.

On Oahu, from early yesterday morning until minutes before the polls closed, volunteers at two phone banks of 20 phones each worked to make sure likely Lingle voters turned out.

Volunteers also manned phone banks on the neighbor islands. If they had the address but not the phone number of a Lingle supporter, volunteers knocked on the potential voter's door.

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