'This has been a wake-up call
for all of us,' Cayetano says to
Democrats after narrowly
By Gregg K. Kakasako
A coalition of organized labor and the Democratic grass-roots army of Japanese- and Filipino-American foot soldiers has given Gov. Benjamin Cayetano his second four-year term.
It also has continued the control Democrats have had on the governor's mansion since 1962.
But Cayetano, who was elected Hawaii's fifth governor since statehood and the first of Filipino ancestry four years ago, last night warned that his narrow victory should serve as "a wake-up call for Democrats."
"We have to get back into touch with what the people are really concerned about: education and the economy," said Cayetano in assessing his victory over GOP Maui Mayor Linda Lingle.
"We have to make sure that we serve the people first....There's a widespread perception out there that Democrats have lost touch with the people."
Cayetano, first elected to the state Legislature 24 years ago, said the Democratic Party, which wrested control of the Legislature from Republicans in 1954, now must get "in sync with the people."
"To the Democrats who have been given a chance by the people," said Cayetano in addressing the newly elected members of the Legislature, "we'd better do what needs to be done to get this state together. Forget about everything else."
"Democrats, wake up and get our party in sync again and make sure we are in sync with the people. This has been a wake-up call for all of us, and we should thank our lucky stars that we will be able to lead our state into the next century."
Since 1954 the Democratic Party has dominated Hawaii government mainly because of union support -- and Cayetano vowed to get involved in the mechanics of running the political party.
It was the 1962 general election when Democrats took the gubernatorial mantle away from Republicans: Former delegate to Congress John A. Burns bested GOP incumbent William F. Quinn by a 32,500-vote margin.
Last night, Cayetano beat Lingle by some 5,200 votes.
Cayetano said he plans to relax by playing a round of golf today, then will take a weeklong San Francisco vacation with wife Vicky.
During and after his vacation, Cayetano said, he plans to review the future of his 17 Cabinet members, some of whom he expects will leave since they took a pay cut when joining his administration four years ago.
But one Cabinet official he wants to remain is Attorney General Margery Bronster, so she can finish investigations into the Bishop Estate and the oil companies and settle the state's lawsuit against the tobacco industry, which he estimates could mean $40 million to $50 million in revenues to the state.
During the election, Cayetano said, he talked with many state workers whom he said were made "the scapegoat of the campaign and blamed for the problems of the economy." The governor promised that their concerns would be heard.
Cayetano also indicated that he plans to ask the Legislature to trim the current five-day payroll lag to only two days and doesn't see a need to cut further into the state labor force because of the current surplus.
Winning seven elections from 1974 to 1994, Cayetano, 58, first served two terms in the state House, two terms in the Senate and two terms as lieutenant governor before becoming governor in 1994.
An attorney, Cayetano practiced law for 15 years before becoming lieutenant governor. He has three children from his first marriage, and married Vicky Liu at a Washington Place ceremony on May 5, 1997.
In his victory, Cayetano combined a massive statewide grass-roots network and a $4 million media campaign.
Trailing Lingle in the polls since early this year, Cayetano was able to inch to a position last week where some media polls indicated that it was a nail-biter to be determined by "undecided" voters.
Cayetano's own polls saw the lead switch back and forth between him and Lingle within the last week of the campaign.
It also was the Democratic Party's game plan in the closing moments of the general election to link Lingle to the conservative national Republican Party and politics.
That strategy was seen as crucial in a state where 40 percent of its voters call themselves Democrats, compared with about 20 percent Republicans. It was also an attempt to better identify Lingle, who had tried to shy away from the Republican label.
Cayetano's key supporters said his victory hinged on the support of traditional Democratic power blocs: labor unions and Japanese-American voters. They also heavily courted Filipino-American voters -- an untested but potential voting power bloc.
In the end however, Cayetano aides say it was the "aikane-to-aikane" -- "friend-to-friend" -- telephone campaign that made the difference.
Using phone trees and personal pitches by Cayetano at coffee hours and other events, the grass-roots network was asked to contact 10 of their friends.
Aides said it is in these settings that Cayetano's best qualities -- his honesty and sincerity -- came through.
Charlie Toguchi, the Cayetano chief of staff who helped devise the "friend-to-friend" telephone effort, estimated that in the closing 10 days of the race, "close to 80,000 to 100,000 people" got personal solicitations.
One of the most emotional and perhaps crucial moments in the campaign, aides said, is when Cayetano went before the board of the Hawaii State Teachers Association seeking its endorsement. "At one point the governor became so emotional that he broke down," an aide said.
Support of Hawaii's teachers meant a lot for the kid from Kalihi who nearly flunked out of Farrington High School, Cayetano said last night. "The governor always saw education as the great equalizer and always felt that teachers gave him hope and opportunity."
One of the major stumbling blocks earlier in the campaign, aides now concede, was the complicated recommendations of Cayetano's Economic Revitalization Task Force, which failed to make it intact through the 1998 legislative session.
That package included an increase in the general excise tax from 4 percent to 5.35 percent coupled with cuts to the state's personal and corporate income taxes to spur economic growth.
"It created an issue that (opponents) could rally around," a Cayetano aide said.
Last night, Cayetano said he still wants lawmakers to reduce the state's corporate income taxes and he wants to win back the support of small businesses -- which rallied behind Lingle -- as long as it doesn't mean "eroding the rights of the working people."
loyalty was key
UH political science profs say loyalBy Pat Omandam
Democrats and unions won it for Cayetano
Gov. Ben Cayetano's 5,200-vote win over Republican challenger Linda Lingle is a testament to Democratic Party loyalties, union support, a last-minute media blitz and a fear of job security, according to political science professors throughout the University of Hawaii system.
And all agree with Cayetano's acknowledgment last night that this too-close-to-call gubernatorial race is a "wake-up call" for Democrats that people want change.
"There's a clear message here," said A. Didrick Castberg, head of the political science department at UH-Hilo.
"My guess is that a lot of those voices weren't so much for Lingle but against the Democratic Party. It's a sign that people want change, but not so much change they want a Republican governor."
UH-Manoa political science professor, "They may have won this battle, but in terms of what the war is going to look like, in terms of what the struggle between Democrats and Republicans is going to look like on this island, I think that there is still a lot that we can read in this election that suggests that change is necessary and that change was demanded."
Castberg believes Lingle lost because her campaign peaked too early and because Cayetano vastly outspent her in the last few weeks of the race. Also, Lingle's inability to provide details of her administration plan in the last gubernatorial debate left people wondering if change would make a difference.
"And I think there was fear among unions what might happen if Linda Lingle were governor," he said.
"In tough economic times, people are hanging on to their jobs, and any threat of change in their job security will make people conservative in their voting," Castberg said.
Goldberg-Hiller said Cayetano's victory is a sign the old Democratic Party system is weakening and needs to be overhauled. He believes the party must begin to work closely with the community and businesses to fix the economy and not rely on efforts such as the Economic Revitalization Task Force, whose recommendations to the state Legislature earlier this year fell short of any major changes.
Ira S. Rohter, associate political science professor at Manoa, said Cayetano won because of fear, uncertainity and disinformation.
He believes Hawaii residents were worried about local GOP ties with Congressional House Speaker Newt Gingrich and with positions taken by Lingle running mate Stan Koki, whom Rohter said the party kept hidden throughout the race.
Rohter said people also wondered what product Lingle was selling because she had no specific solution to issues raised during her campaign. And the Cayetano campaign did well to highlight the governor's accomplishments, including those regarding environment and his proposed vision statement for the next four years.