GOVERNOR & LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Gubernatorial candidates Linda Lingle and Randy Iwase prepare for their Oct. 6 televised debate at the KITV4 News studio, aided by John Nishida.
Goliath faces honorable challenger
Iwase would need full-court party backing to capitalize on GOP weakness nationally
Political observer Dan Boylan calls the election contest between Randy Iwase and Gov. Linda Lingle "a David-and-Goliath attempt."
Although Iwase "was a fine state senator," he has been out of political office for six years and was not the Democratic Party's first choice to challenge the popular Republican incumbent, Boylan noted.
Iwase, 58, "sort of came out of the blue to do service, and he will do it well. He's a passionate fellow and a smart fellow," Boylan said.
DAN BOYLAN, political observer
About Randy Iwase: "He sort of came out of the blue to do service, and he will do it well. He's a passionate fellow and a smart fellow.
My guess is he will not embarrass himself."
About Linda Lingle: "Probably the best-skilled person of getting across her message to the public and the media since statehood."
DON CLEGG, political pollster
About Randy Iwase: Questions whether Democrats "can pull the same full-court press against Lingle as they were able to do against Case" for Akaka.
About Linda Lingle: "Lingle is not playing it like a runaway race. It's the politician that takes it for granted that loses."
"My guess is he will not embarrass himself," Boylan said.
Yet in Lingle, Iwase faces "probably the best-skilled person of getting across her message to the public and the media since statehood," Boylan said.
The 53-year-old governor, whose resume includes serving as Maui mayor and county councilwoman and starting a community newspaper on Molokai, is "riding a great economy with very, very low unemployment," Boylan said. "And she's got an enormous amount of money": $6.1 million through Sept. 9.
Iwase's contributions totaled $236,106.
After her near miss against Cayetano in 1998, Lingle reorganized the state's GOP, recruited candidates for the Legislature and raised nearly $3 million to topple the longest-standing statewide Democratic political organization in U.S. history.
It was a Republican revolution that Lingle is not about to let go of.
Iwase "faces an enormous challenge," Boylan said. "I've heard people say he won't get 35 percent of the vote. I think he will."
But to win, Boylan says, "he'd have to take advantage of the terrible problems Republicans are facing nationally," particularly the public dissatisfaction with Bush and the Iraq war.
Political analyst and pollster Don Clegg questions whether Democrats "can pull the same full-court press against Lingle as they were able to do against Case" for Akaka.
"Are they ready and can they do it?" Clegg asked. "I don't think they can."
Iwase insisted he is running to win.
"I'm interested in education and growing our economy," Iwase said. "And it's a question of leadership of this state -- whether we've been led by a governor or by a public relations machine."
To counter Lingle's better financing, Iwase plans to appeal via the "grass roots" and take advantage of matching public campaign financing he can get if he raises $100,000 in contributions of $100 or less.
Lingle said her plan is "to remind people of our record of results over the past four years, and talk about the future and the plans we have: to keep the economy strong, to bring accountability to education, continue to have a positive impact on drugs and alcohol, make sure that usage continues going down. That it's not just right now, but that it continues in the years ahead."
"Lingle is not playing it like a runaway race," Clegg said. "It's the politician that takes it for granted that loses."
Lingle's running mate is Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, 51, while Iwase's running partner is former state Sen. Malama Solomon, 55, of the Big Island.
Other candidates for governor are Libertarian Daniel Ozell and the Green Party's Jim Brewer.