Hawaii’s World

By A.A. Smyser

Tuesday, September 1, 1998

Lingle needs a moderate
as running mate

ALL those who want to see Linda Lingle elected governor must rally to elect Mike Liu as her running mate Sept. 19. Otherwise the top of the GOP ticket will be too heavily weighted toward the unelectable religious right with Stan Koki for lieutenant governor and Gene Ward in the featured congressional race in metropolitan Honolulu.

Both men oppose abortion and oppose doctor-assisted dying, which polls show have strong public support.

As members of the Legislature elected from conservative districts they had their proper places in government, but they will be a terrible drag on the top of the ticket, which must win statewide.

Lingle is an electable Republican moderate, but she will have a hard time projecting moderation if she has to pose for campaign pictures with strong rightists like Koki and Ward by her side.

It looked for a while as though Quentin Kawananakoa would win the 1st District congressional nomination and benefit Lingle with his Hawaiian royal lineage and his moderateness. As long as that was true, Lingle might have safely stayed above the fray in the Republican contest for lieutenant governor primarily between two former state senators, Koki and Liu.

With Kawananakoa out for health reasons, Lingle no longer has that luxury.

She badly needs Liu to save a middle-of-the-road image for her ticket.

Liu has the better qualifications in any event. He was an active GOP senator, pushing GOP programs on an overwhelming Democratic majority in the Senate, poked into their budget with seriousness and savvy, and was regarded as in the top 10 out of 76 legislators, Senate and House combined.

He served at a sub-cabinet level in the Agriculture Department under President George Bush and thus knows something about the ropes of the federal government.

A Lingle-Liu ticket has a far better chance of winning Nov. 3 than a Lingle-Koki ticket. Democratic sharpshooters will have less to shoot at if the combination is Lingle-Liu.

All this, of course, contemplates that Lingle will beat Frank Fasi for the Republican nomination in the primary. She should, but overconfidence could be fatal.

Fasi, an irascible oldster who has run under many party banners, used to say in his heyday as Honolulu mayor that one-third of the voters were for him, one-third were against him and the other third decided the election.

HE has been out of office four years and his following now is far less than a third. But suppose 11 percent still yearn for a return to his old confrontational governance.

In 1996 only 20 percent of all voters took a GOP primary election ballot. An 11 percent bloc that moved solidly into the GOP primary -- which is open to anyone -- would have a good chance of making him the nominee and shooting down Lingle's high hopes.

Fasi, too, shares the views of the religious right but built a much broader base during his long tenure as mayor.

A.A. Smyser is the contributing editor
and former editor of the the Star-Bulletin
His column runs Tuesday and Thursday.

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