Cayetano enters
last months with
mixed reviews

His job performance
is rated as good and poor
in equal measure

Lingle ahead of Dem rivals

By Pat Omandam

Nearly a third of Hawaii voters said outgoing Gov. Ben Cayetano is doing a poor job -- an increase from last year and the second-highest poor rating in his eight years as governor, according to the latest Star-Bulletin/KITV 4 News poll.

Election 2002

"I'll leave it to the historians to judge me and my administration in a more calm and objective setting," Cayetano said.

Meanwhile, Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris' performance rating has not dropped much despite a past year of, among of things, highly publicized investigations of alleged campaign spending violations, the arrest of a close Harris aide for alleged illegal campaign activities and Harris' withdrawal as a Democratic candidate for governor.

"It's gratifying to have so much support after a year of constant barrage in the media," Harris said in a statement. "We've got a lot of exciting things to accomplish in the next two years, and with the community's continued support, we'll keep making Honolulu better and better."

The survey of 600 registered voters statewide showed 32 percent of respondents in an Aug. 21-28 poll rated Cayetano's performance as poor.

An additional 31 percent gave him an excellent-good rating, while 35 percent said he was doing a fair job. Two percent said they were undecided.

The poll, conducted by Market Trends Pacific Inc., has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.


During Cayetano's first year as governor, a similar poll showed only 7 percent of Hawaii voters listed his performance as poor, while 44 percent gave him an excellent-good rating.

His worst rating was in March 1998, when 36 percent said he was doing a lousy job while 27 percent gave him an excellent-good rating. That survey followed a period when the Cayetano administration imposed deep budget cuts, layoffs and terminations to cope with revenue shortfalls.

Today, with less than a 100 days left in his final term, Cayetano's standing among voters reflects a turbulent eight years in office marked by, among other things, a struggling economy, a teachers strike and the fallout from Sept. 11 terrorists attacks.

The governor said Friday that he has made many tough decisions during his tenure that have made people unhappy, such as the April 2001 strike by the public labor unions representing public school teachers and university faculty.

Also, he said, the Sept. 11 attacks cut short Hawaii's economic recovery in its second full year.

"When people hurt, the buck stops at my office, regardless of the reasons. I accept it because it is part of being governor," Cayetano said.

"In 1994, I did not enter a popularity contest -- I sought the governorship because I wanted to make significant changes. I did what I thought was right, and I believe that the benefits of our accomplishments will be recognized in the years ahead," he said.


Demographics of last week's poll showed Cayetano got the highest marks from Oahu voters and the lowest from Maui. Those age 55 and older had the highest marks for him.

By ethnicity, Filipinos scored him highest; Hawaiians, lowest. And the more money respondents earned, the worse they rated his job performance.

Overall, however, Cayetano is about on par with his predecessor, John D. Waihee III, who in his final two years in office received poor performance ratings of 30 percent in 1993 and 1994 from Hawaii voters.

Meanwhile, 52 percent of those polled on Oahu gave Harris an excellent-good rating, which is slightly off the 53 percent in May 2000.

The only other major change for Harris was the percentage of undecided on his performance. It rose to 12 percent in this poll from 1 percent in the May 2000 poll.

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