Dems seek
challenger to Lingle

With the 2006 primary election a little more than a year away, state Democrats are still looking for a candidate to challenge Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

Brickwood Galuteria, state Democratic Party chairman, says he is talking to possible candidates, but no formal announcements are planned.

"Nobody has said 'no,' but nobody has said 'yes,' and that says a lot," Galuteria said.

One possible candidate, Big Island Mayor Harry Kim, has not decided if he would run.

"It is up to Harry. Harry is undecided as of yet. I keep in touch from time to time just to see where he is, to see if I can help him decide any quicker, but Harry is his own man and I respect that," Galuteria said.

Kim says he is still thinking it over.

"I have told all inquirers that I am not there. I don't know what I am going to do. I promised people I would think about it and that is as far as I have gone," Kim said.

"People from the party did ask if I would agree to a time frame to say yes or no and I said, 'No, I will not agree to that,'" Kim said.

Kim added that he told his Cabinet that he is "not playing any games on this. All I can think about all the unfinished tasks we want to accomplish here."

At the same time, an independent Internet Web page, DraftHarryKim.com, has popped up. It was started by Oahu political activist Larry Geller, who said he has never met Kim but admires him.

"Many people like him and think he has the right qualities to be governor," Geller said last week.

Geller, president of the Kokua Council and a private consultant, said discussions with fellow Democrats show there's a concern about possible candidates. Democrats feel there should be one or more candidates ready to challenge Lingle, he said.

"There should be a candidate out there making speeches and talking about the issues. Do we want to sit back and have Lingle have another term? Do we want to have debate and a choice?" Geller said.

With no candidates so far, Geller started the Web page to urge voters to send letters and e-mails asking Kim to run for governor.

Galuteria worries that Lingle, with $2.2 million collected for the campaign, appears unassailable.

"The Republicans will do almost anything to tear a candidate apart. It is no secret that Gov. Lingle has been a poster child for the Bush administration, and I have no doubt they will be putting down some heavy artillery," Galuteria said.

Democrats, he added, will be mounting their own campaign, but "I'm just saying it is going to be a rough race."

Hawaii Democratic Party

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