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Lingle's lack of plans spawns speculation


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POSTED: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

By noon on Dec. 6, 2010, Hawaii will have a new governor. Today the current governor appears to be confirming increasing speculation that Hawaii's most successful Republican in nearly a half century has no future local political plans.

Although Gov. Linda Lingle has not offered any news as to her post-2010 plans, she doesn't appear to be keeping a political machine alive.

The latest evidence comes from the absence of any guidance from Lingle in directing the local GOP entering the 2010 elections. Also she is not expected to attend the state GOP convention next month in Kona.

Party leaders say that political newcomer Jonah Kaauwai has the best shot of taking over as chairman of the local GOP.

If Lingle wants a political life after 2010, she needs to control the local GOP leadership, but this year she has appeared almost diffident to local political affairs and hasn't expressed any interest in any of the candidates running for party leaders.

In years past, Lingle either was running the party or working with the GOP chairman to organize it. Most of the arrows pointed toward Lingle as the leader, but today no one is home.

In comparison, Hawaii's Democrats know U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye is their titular head and if anyone wants to fight him for it they should know that the Congressional Medal of Honor winner doesn't back down.

At the last Democratic convention, Inouye was not in attendance, not because he had grown disinterested but because he was getting married—and he made sure his videotaped message was shown during prime convention time.

Lingle is easily the best saleswoman or man to hold political office in Hawaii, but now Republicans at the Legislature say she appears to be phoning it in.

According to her last campaign expense report, Lingle still holds more than $120,000 in contributions, but for someone who raised and spent $5 million in 2006, the present treasury barely keeps the lights on. Just as significant: Lingle has not raised any money for her own political purposes since the 2006 campaign.

Today Lingle's speeches are peppered with the phrase "in the next two years." No matter if she is talking about budget balancing or the political future, it appears that if Lingle is keeping her eye on the prize, it won't be winning in a local election.


Richard Borreca writes on politics every Wednesday. Reach him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).