Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Parties debate
campaign tactics

Both sides disagree over the message
sent in a Council election

By Richard Borreca

Former Democratic state Sen. Ann Kobayashi's overwhelming victory in Saturday's special City Council election was a clear rejection of Republican campaign tactics, according to Democratic Party Chairwoman Lorraine Akiba.

But Republican Party Chairwoman Linda Lingle said the loss by former Republican state Rep. Sam Aiona was because Kobayashi had more money and was well known in the district.

Akiba said the GOP charges that Kobayashi had raised thousands of dollars from special interests was an example of "dirty politics."

"It is a reflection of how people are going to react to the true Republican Party," Akiba said.

"Once you get into a campaign and the stresses of the campaign, the true colors are going to come out. I'm sure the people of Hawaii were sick and tired of that in Hawaii. That doesn't cut it here. People are not that kind of mean-spirited here."

All city government races are nonpartisan. Kobayashi is a Democrat who initially was elected to the state Senate as a Republican. Aiona has served in the state House as a Republican.

Lingle said the GOP intends to continue to press Democratic incumbents to defend their records.

"Lorraine is just so inexperienced when it comes to campaigning," Lingle said. "She tends to characterize campaigning on the issues as negative.

"I think someone's record or who their contributors are, or where it came from, I think that is fair."

Lingle said when she first started campaigning in the 1980s, "you could get elected by saying you are a nice guy, your opponent is a nice guy, 'Please vote for me.'"

"I don't think people see it that way anymore," Lingle said.

But Akiba said Kobayashi's victory shows that the Democrats ran a better campaign.

"We are being very above-board, and we want to raise the bar," Akiba said.

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