Lingle’s team fires broadside at HSTA
The governor says the union has endorsed Iwase without polling its 12,000 teachers
Gov. Linda Lingle and her campaign team are blasting the Hawaii State Teachers Association decision not to support her re-election.
While officials from the HSTA were not available to say whom they endorsed, Lingle's senior adviser for communications, Lenny Klompus, said the union supports Democratic opponent Randall Iwase, and described the endorsement as "not worth the paper it is printed on."
Klompus said the Lingle campaign was "disappointed that the HSTA decided to endorse the Democrat gubernatorial candidate, without a vote from its members.
"It is indeed an insult and injustice to teachers to strip them of their voice within their own union," Klompus said.
Lingle said she was disappointed in the failure to win the endorsement of the politically influential, 12,000-member teachers union.
"We know this endorsement does not reflect the true sentiments of HSTA members. Over the last four years, many teachers have personally thanked the lieutenant governor and me for our support, understanding, and the respect we have shown to their profession," Lingle said in a news release.
"We supported collective-bargaining increases for teachers and pushed proposals to provide teachers with the resources they need to achieve success in the classroom," said Lingle.
HSTA officials did not return calls for comment on Lingle's criticisms or their endorsement.
The failure to pick up the HSTA endorsement has been a sore point for Lingle in past campaigns. When Lingle first ran for governor in 1998, she had been mayor of Maui for two terms and said she had already developed a good relationship with public employee unions.
But in 1998 the HSTA endorsed incumbent Gov. Ben Cayetano, despite just concluding a fractious negotiating session with him.
The Cayetano endorsement came after two secret ballots by the teachers. Lingle said then that the voting showed strong support for her. After the announcement favoring Cayetano was announced, teachers organized support groups for the Republican Maui mayor.
Then in 2002 the HSTA announced that it had changed its endorsement procedure but declined to endorse any candidate running for governor.
Iwase has already won the endorsement of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the state's largest public employee union. Lingle has picked up endorsements from the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and the firefighters and police officers unions.