Harry who? Kim's chances aren't good
BIG ISLAND Mayor Harry Kim's name pops up most often as the Democratic candidate likely to challenge Gov. Linda Lingle in 2006.
Although the blue jean-wearing, 62-year old former teacher and civil defense director tops the rumor charts, he has yet to say yes or no to a campaign. The question remains, if Kim did run, would he win?
Veteran political consultants who have worked on previous campaigns for governor call Kim a long shot.
Of the consultants surveyed, only retired public relations and media guru Jim Loomis would speak on the record. He said a Kim victory is not impossible, just don't bet on it.
"He is seen as not a typical politician, a no-nonsense guy, who talks straight and gets the job done," Loomis said.
But Loomis notes that Kim, who in his two successful campaigns for mayor limited campaign contributions to $10 each, will have to raise more money. In his last campaign Kim raised and spent less than $10,000.
"Limiting contributors to small amounts won't begin to raise the money necessary for the kind of media effort a statewide race requires ... whether Harry likes it or not," Loomis said.
"Without enough money to at least have a decent media presence, Lingle will simply overwhelm him. It's unfortunate, but it's a fact of political life," said Loomis.
Lingle already has raised $2.4 million and has spent time touring the mainland picking up out-of-state donations before the new state campaign spending law limiting those contributions goes into effect. In 2002, Lingle spent more than $5 million to win the governorship.
Underscoring Kim's "regular guy" approach, another Democratic consultant says Hawaii voters sense something has been lost in Hawaii as transportation and housing problems make life less enjoyable.
"Yes, we need change, but change from the inside, not outside, like Lingle," the veteran campaigner says.
But that is the sum total of good news for Kim. Others, including card-carrying Democrats, say he has no chance.
"He is going to need every single Democratic vote, because Lingle runs close to being a Democrat herself, plus the economy is good and she hasn't made enough enemies to lose," one campaign operative says.
And don't count on Kim or his supporters being able to play the local card either, he says. The Hawaii GOP has changed.
"You look at young, local college-educated kids -- they say the GOP is more vigorous and exciting," he said.
Another veteran says there is a misconception among political insiders that because they know Kim, he has name recognition across the state.
"He is not well known, and for younger voters he is an absolute unknown," the consultant said.
Oahu, with 80 percent of the population and votes, is not rural, it is urban, and "You can't run the state like a rural place with a rural pace."
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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 email@example.com