Lingle vows end to
government corruption

By Bruce Dunford
Associated Press

This past weekend, it was the Hawaii Democrats' time to shine at their annual convention at the Sheraton-Waikiki hotel.

Last night, Republican gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle got the spotlight at the same hotel as she held the first in a series of "birthday bash" fund-raisers statewide.

Lingle told about 1,000 supporters at the $100-a-plate, two-hour event that the Democrats declared at their convention that the campaign "is about holding onto power and the stranglehold on government that they've had for 40 years."

"They're wrong ... it's about making life better for everyone in the state of Hawaii regardless of political parties," she said.

Lingle said her administration would act in 30 days to end "corruption in government contracting," referring to a recently disclosed state investigation into alleged favoritism in awarding bundles of small airport construction contracts to single companies to avoid public bidding.

With Democrats taking pot shots at Lingle in particular and Republicans in general at their weekend convention, the GOP fired back yesterday.

GOP National Committeewoman Miriam Hellreich said she was taken aback by U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink's assertion Sunday that the Democrats have a right to remain in control of state government.

"The convention appeared to be all about holding onto power, not about improving Hawaii's economy or education or the ethical things that face some members of their party," Hellreich said.

Sen. Sam Slom (R, Hawaii Kai-Aina Haina) said in the news coverage of the Democratic convention, "I think what I saw was a screaming Patsy Mink, a screaming Neil Abercrombie, a screaming Lorraine Akiba," the Hawaii Democratic Party chairwoman.

"The highlight of it all came when Mink screamed that the Democrats have a right to rule and will stop anyone else who tries to stop their right to rule," Slom said.

"All they talked about was people, people, people. But it seems the only people on their mind are the people they have in office and those who benefit from state contracts," he said.

Sen. Fred Hemmings (R, Kailua-Waimanalo) said the Democrats were left in disarray with last Thursday's sudden pullout of their leading gubernatorial candidate, Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris.

Left vying for the party's nomination are Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, businessman and former Republican state Sen. D.G. "Andy" Anderson and Rep. Ed Case (D, Manoa).

"It's a difficult choice. Mazie is an opportunist. Andy Anderson certainly is part of the old-boy network and Ed Case is the right guy in the wrong party," Hemmings said.

Hemmings, however, cautioned that the Republicans best not take the Democrats for granted.

"It's always going to be tough going against a political machine with all its assets and operatives who live in the environment of political fear," he said. "They are a formidable foe."

Rep. Galen Fox (R, Waikiki-Ala Wai) said he feels the Democrats were "trying to make the best of a difficult situation."

"The problems we have in Hawaii today are partly the result of a single party being in charge of everything for four decades," he said. "The best way to change the way Hawaii is run is to throw out the people who have given us the problems that we have and replace them with those who promise solutions."

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