National race helps
troops at home
When Bill Clinton first ran for president in 1988 he had a friend in John Waihee.
Hawaii's new governor also had a friend in Clinton, as the campaign for president served as a organizational rallying point for Waihee.
The young Hawaiian governor realized that political parties are not armies blindly taking and following orders, political parties unite around a cause. Waihee knew that a party united around the cause of electing Bill Clinton would be the party that came together in 1990 to crush whomever the Republicans dared offer up.
That Democratic beating was administered to Republican Fred Hemmings, who watched Waihee scoop up an unprecedented 60 percent of the vote, the largest vote margin in state history. Hemmings would live to fight again, however, as he is back in politics, leading the GOP in the state Senate.
The race for governor in 1990 was actually won with the hard work that Waihee's lieutenants put into the 1988 campaign for Clinton. The governor lent his support and urged on his troops to first win the presidential preference poll for Clinton and then go on to win the state for Clinton in the fall.
The office of governor is big enough and powerful enough to supply the bodies to organize each political precinct in the state. By putting state department directors in charge of portions of the Clinton campaign, Waihee was putting the wheels on his own re-election machine to come two years hence.
This year's Democratic Party, lacking one individual to rally the troops and still staggered by the loss of the Governor's Office in 2002, is putting up a business-as-usual campaign for president.
After occupying Washington Place for 40 years, Hawaii's Democrats just assumed it was their ancestral home and would always stay within the family. When Linda Lingle handed them their eviction papers, the Democrats stomped around, groused, but have yet to come up with a plan to get their collective foot back in the door.
The low-level campaign for Democratic nominee John Kerry would have been a natural rallying point for the party. In 1992, when Sen. Dan Akaka was threatened by Republican Pat Saiki in a race for his U.S. Senate seat, the Democrats launched what amounted to a jihad against the GOP that nearly blew the Republicans completely out of the state Legislature.
Then six years ago the Democrats were able to beat Lingle by linking her to every GOP troglodyte across the nation. Today, after two years of the Lingle administration, the GOP does not move the fear factor needle very much.
Lingle's appearances at the GOP national convention may not have peaked the interest of the Washington Post and The New York Times, but she had enough of a role on the national stage to keep her in front of the local media. Lingle is also linking the re-election campaign for Bush to her efforts to win control of the state House.
This year Lingle already has opened the Waihee play book, jotted down the important passages and is set to execute.
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Richard Borreca writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org