Aiona's early entry turns governor's race into marathon
The lieutenant governor has begun raising funds for the 2010 governor's race.
LESS than seven months after his boss's inauguration, Republican Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona has already begun a campaign
to occupy Linda Lingle's office come 2010.
Though yet to officially declare his candidacy for governor, Aiona has initiated what in modern politics has become probably the most important component of seeking public office -- raising money.
He will need it. His predecessor raised more than $6 million for her second run and spent $5.4 million in her first.
The pragmatic move positions Aiona as the man to beat. It is a shot across the bow of other aspirants not only in his own party, but among Democrats as well.
The former state court judge, who turned 52 Friday, has set out to collect contributions with a series of "birthday bashes" on Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii, reports the Star-Bulletin's Richard Borreca.
To make the progression to the state's top office, Aiona will have be circumspect. He'll have to gain a higher profile without stepping into Lingle's spotlight because she has ambitions beyond the governor's office. He will need to avoid the myriad landmines that candidates encounter, and his chances for a stumble will be compounded by the three years to the final run-up.
Having won only one campaign without the popular Lingle leading the ticket, Aiona remains largely untested. She undoubtedly will continue to lend her support, but the governor has not displayed strong coattails despite winning votes from a broad political spectrum.
Moreover, other formidable and seasoned politicians, including U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, have their eyes on the prize.
Aiona's early bid could change the track for political runs from middle-distance races to marathons. He's already heard the starting gun.
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