her personal touch
The defeated challenger givesBy Richard Borreca
a warm thank-you to all
of her supporters
Melva Aila, a substitute teacher, and her husband William drove to Dole Cannery last night from Waianae, hoping to realize a change in Hawaii's government.
"We came to see Linda win," she said.
"We hope we get to write history tonight," William Aila said as the couple stood glued to a television set for almost five hours.
But by 10:45 p.m., the two campaign volunteers looked at each other and headed back to Waianae.
"What the Democrats have to understand is that if you have the right message and it comes from the heart, the people will support you," William Aila said.
For Republican Lingle, the support left her sometime after her Sept. 19 primary election victory over former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi.
At one time Lingle was leading by more than 20 percentage points in the polls. But after two live, televised debates with opponent Gov. Ben Cayetano, Lingle's lead appeared to shrink.
She stuck to her game plan of cramming as many appearances as possible into each day, sometimes making as many as five speeches in a day.
That same high-touch campaign effort carried over even in defeat.
Last night, she promised not to leave until she had personally thanked every one of the more than 2,000 supporters who crowded the Dole Cannery ballroom.
"I'll never forget you. I'll never forget this experience," Lingle told the crowd in her concession speech at midnight. "To all of my friends, I love you very much."
The affection was returned as supporters, many with moist eyes, hugged Lingle and asked her to stay in public service.
"She won a lot of people who never voted. They saw in her something; somehow she will help them," said Hoaliku Drake, one of Lingle's campaign coordinators, a Democrat and the mother of Bishop Estate trustee Henry Peters.
"I believe she should run for governor again," Drake said.
Another campaign volunteer, Randy Roth -- incoming president of the Hawaii Bar Association, a University of Hawaii law professor and an author of the "Broken Trust" articles on Bishop Estate that led to a state investigation -- also wants her to continue.
"She is destined to make Hawaii a better place. It would be an honor to be with her again," Roth said.
"There's a lot of pride in this room," said Kitty Lagareta, campaign spokeswoman.
As for Lingle, she won't say if she will run again. But after being in elective office for 18 years, she said, "I love being in public service.
"After I rest awhile, I'm sure it is something I will give a lot of thought."
The campaign was a difficult one: Lingle was outspent by Cayetano, who came into the election season with nearly $4 million and finished with $5 million.
Pat Saiki, the 1994 GOP gubernatorial candidate, said Lingle handcuffed herself in the homestretch of the campaign by sticking to a pledge not to exceed the voluntary spending limit of $2.7 million. "She was courageous," Saiki said. "It is one of the factors if she (doesn't) win."
Cayetano did not make such a spending pledge. And besides his own money, he had the backing of most major labor unions, which were able to spend their own money running commercials attacking Lingle.
"There was all that money and so much misinformation and nastiness," Lagareta said.
To counter the Cayetano Democratic force, Lingle had her grass-roots campaign that started with her supporters on Maui, then spread through coffee hours and community meetings to the other neighbor islands.
Because of her Maui political base, Lingle hoped to extend her support to the other neighbor islands then hold the Democrats to a tie on Oahu.
But the plan didn't work. She lost Oahu, where most of Hawaii voters live, won Maui and the Big Island, but lost Kauai, a Democratic stronghold.
Also, the Democrats pulled out the heavy weapons to hold off the GOP challenge.
"My one disappointment in the campaign is the way Gov. Cayetano tried to divide people, between parties, between labor and management, between newcomer and kamaaina," Lingle said.
"I think more than anything else what this state needs is to come together, to make sure our economy recovers and people don't have to leave Hawaii."
Saiki sees ironic twist in these election resultsPat Saiki, the Republican candidate for governor in 1994, watched the second printout results at an election party for state Rep. Sam Aiona.
"What's happening is exactly what happened to me," she commented. "I started with high poll numbers all the way, then the Democrat machine cranked up, and that's what they did for Linda, too."
Democrats took a page from the Republican playbook and mounted a successful absentee voter campaign, Saiki noted after the first printout, which is mostly absentee votes. Political wisdom holds that absentee votes are usually conservative and Republican, but the Democrats took an early lead.
Republicans, meanwhile, took a page from the Democratic playbook and mounted a large grass-roots effort. Saiki noted that Lingle's grass-roots campaign was bigger and better than her campaign in 1994.
Voters likely granted Hirono's birthday wishLt. Gov. Mazie Hirono celebrated her 51st birthday yesterday with the voters granting her a second term and supporters singing "Happy Birthday" as she flashed a victory sign on stage at the campaign headquarters she shared with Gov. Ben Cayetano.
Soon after, election returns showed the Democratic duo comfortably ahead -- and near midnight, Cayetano claimed victory for the team.
California city re-elects St. Louis grad as mayorHenry Manayan, a 1973 St. Louis High School graduate, won his second two-year term as mayor of the northern California Silicon Valley community of Milipitas yesterday.
Rick Manayan, a Cayetano supporter, said his brother two years ago became the first Filipino American elected mayor of a mainland city.
Milipitas has a population of about 80,000.
Fasi predicts victory to Cayetano crowdFormer Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi, who endorsed Gov. Ben Cayetano after losing the GOP gubernatorial primary in September, had no doubts about the outcome of the governor's race.
He arrived at Cayetano's King Street headquarters at 7:30 last night shortly after the first printout showed Cayetano leading Maui Mayor Linda Lingle by only 1,523 votes.
"He's going to win," Fasi proclaimed to reporters while the audience cheered: "Fasi! Fasi! Fasi!"
"There's no question about it," Fasi added. "I thought he would be behind at the first printout, but since he's ahead at this point, there's no question he is going to win."