Richard Borreca

On Politics


New governor plans to
serve two tours of duty

As Gov.-elect Linda Lingle readies her state administration, somewhere among the thoughts of a new cabinet, a fearsome budget deficit and a cantankerous Legislature, some consideration is already being given to 2006.

If there was a hallmark to Lingle's victory this year, it was planning. She ran a campaign that lived by the motto, "We hate surprises."

To a large degree, her victory over the combined Democratic and labor forces was partially because Lingle and her team planned early to raise the money needed, planned early to have a coordinated campaign and planned early where and how to find every vote needed to ensure a November victory.

So it isn't surprising to hear Lingle talk about spending eight years in the governor's office.

After her meeting last week with Gov. Ben Cayetano, Lingle appeared in the koa-paneled reception area outside the formal governor's office. She was joined by Cayetano, who did a brief but noticeable double take when Lingle alluded to serving two terms as she thanked him.

"He was candid about trying to help me," Lingle said, "in the spirit of understanding what I will be facing in the next eight years."

A somewhat more mellow than usual Cayetano let the comment go with only a slight widening of his eyes, but you could almost hear him saying, "Eight years?! She gets four and then we Democrats are storming back here."

Asked later about it, Lingle said it was no slip of the tongue; she is planning two terms and she has a few thoughts on how she will become the first two-term GOP governor in Hawaii's state history.

"I hope people will decide that after four years they want me to stay around and that we did a good job," Lingle said.

Fresh off the campaign trail, Lingle is still ticking off the three major points of her campaign as the keys to winning a 2006 election.

"I think to return, the economy has to expand and diversify, the schools have to get better and we have to restore trust in government," Lingle noted.

In broad terms, those may be issues for the 2006 election, but by then Lingle also will have an administration to defend and four years of decisions and actions to bring to the campaign. And Democrats will have had four years to carefully record her every slip.

Every other elected governor in Hawaii's history has served two terms, so it makes sense for Lingle early on to spare the suspense of whether or not she wants two terms. It also clears the decks for the Democrats to understand exactly what their opposition looks like.

Whether it is a move of refreshing self-confidence or a bit of too-early chutzpah, it is interesting to see the embryonic administration already thinking about the long road ahead.

Richard Borreca writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at

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