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Wednesday, February 23, 2000

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Pat Harrison (left), co-chairwoman of the national Republican
Party, and Linda Lingle talk with Star-Bulletin editorial board.

elated over citizen

'The party now has 1,200
new contributors who have
not given money before'

By Richard Borreca


Buoyed by a sell-out crowd for the Hawaii Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day fund-raiser and an expected 800 delegates to the state GOP convention this spring, Lingle Lingle, the party's new chairwoman, sees a new role for the longtime dormant Republicans.

Lingle says the local party has capitalized on the grass-roots network she used effectively in her campaign for governor two years ago. Although Lingle, the former mayor of Maui, lost the race, her campaign attracted political donors and volunteers who had not previously been involved in politics.

"The party now has 1,200 new contributors who haven't given any money before," Lingle said in an interview with Star-Bulletin editors this morning.

The money raised will go to help viable GOP candidates in the fall elections.

Lingle said the party, which has not held a majority in the Legislature since 1954 and has not controlled the governor's office since 1961, will actively support GOP candidates who already have campaign organizations or strong ties to the community they want to represent.

"We are not going to split up our money with people who are not involved in the community," Lingle said. She said the party is also thinking about supporting a candidate in the Honolulu mayor's race.

The office is nonpartisan, but Lingle said that because incumbent Mayor Jeremy Harris was a big supporter of Gov. Ben Cayetano, the GOP would not support him.

Councilman Mufi Hannemann, an all but declared mayoral candidate, is a Democrat, but Lingle said she has approached him about switching parties.

Another potential candidate, Peter Carlisle, the city prosecutor, also declined Lingle's invitation to run as a Republican this fall.

She was successful, however, in getting Harvey Tajiri, a former Democratic state representative, to run for Big Island mayor this fall as a Republican.

With Lingle was Pat Harrison, GOP national co-chairwoman, who is in town to attend the Lincoln Day dinner on Friday.

Both Lingle and Harrison were careful to stay neutral in the heated GOP presidential primary race.

They called the bruising battle between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain "energizing and good for the party."

When asked why McCain, a senator for 17 years, had such a low following among his fellow senators, Harrison cracked, "They are such a cranky bunch up there."

But the two women avoided praising one candidate more than the other, noting that while McCain is getting points for his "courage and conservative message," Bush is also scoring among Republicans because of his "authenticity."

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