author On Politics

Richard Borreca

Sunday, June 6, 2004

Lone star Lingle shines
through darkness
of Republican Party

For years, I joked that the difference between Democrats and Republicans in Hawaii was that to be a Republican in Hawaii you had to be more than a little nuts.

Today, you can still see what divides the two political parties, but a test for sanity need not be applied.

The comparisons are easy to make because during the last week, first the Democrats met in convention and elected their party chairman and then, this weekend, the Republicans camped out at the same Waikiki Sheraton Hotel.

First off there's a difference in the stars. Even though across the mainland today there are more Republican incumbents in the U.S. Senate and House, governor's mansions and state legislatures, Hawaii is still the land of the Democrat.

Democrats in Hawaii have many stars -- a constellation of political luminaries were glowing at their convention last week. Mufi Hannemann and Duke Bainum had big displays and hospitality suites as they campaigned for Honolulu mayor.

U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye wasn't there, but enough of his political operatives were in attendance to make sure that everyone knows that "Dan appreciates your kokua." And U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka was there. Add to that the appearance of Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case, plus the speaker of the state House, Rep. Calvin Say, and Senate president Robert Bunda and you are talking some real political might.

In contrast, Hawaii Republicans start and stop counting the stars with Gov. Linda Lingle. Hawaii politicians, Demo-crats and Republicans alike, however, have not met as disciplined a leader as Lingle.

As much as the state GOP convention two years ago was about electing Lingle governor, this year's convention is about electing more GOP members of the state House. With the current 15, the GOP needs 11 more to seize the majority in the House. If they can't do that, Plan B is to get 18, just an increase of three, but enough to sustain a Lingle veto.

Control of the Governor's Office and one chamber of the Legislature would completely change the balance of political power in Hawaii and that is exactly what Lingle wants to accomplish.

But the difference between the two parties is that the GOP is all about planning, while the Democrats execute.

Republicans made the lists, drew up the spreadsheets and developed the timelines they think will be needed to win in the fall. The fundraisers are planned and the computer programs are in place. Along with the planning, the Republicans also have gathered a flock of new candidates that should test the Democrats.

In contrast, however, the Democrats herd up their candidates, who already constitute a majority. So for them to keep on winning, all they have to do is execute and hold their voters.

The challenge then falls to Lingle who may be something of a North Star for the GOP, but one star does not a constellation make.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Richard Borreca writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at


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