Wednesday, November 25, 2015         


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Aiona parses relationship with Lingle

By Richard Borreca


The other shoe undropped in the race for governor belongs to Linda Lingle.

The question unanswered in this campaign is when will Republican Gov. Linda Lingle's eight-year record become part of the duel between Democrat Neil Abercrombie and GOP Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona.

During an Office of Hawaiian Affairs debate last week, Aiona backed off from defending Lingle when Abercrombie criticized teacher furloughs and cuts to the state Historic Preservation Division, under Lingle.

"First of all, it's not my administration," Aiona said. "You had a chance to run against Gov. Lingle four years ago and you should have done that. It's her administration."

That's not the sort of response you would expect from someone who spent eight years smiling in photo ops behind Lingle.

The governor said she and Aiona were close, noting that she marked off one lunch a week to meet privately with Aiona. She also was one of the first to endorse Aiona's run for governor and donated the max to his campaign.

Last week, however, Aiona was parsing the relationship.

"Linda Lingle is Linda Lingle and Duke Aiona is Duke Aiona," the lieutenant governor said in an Associated Press interview. "We have different leadership styles and we have a different background."

And Lingle also has an iffy approval rating.

Lingle's job approval rating has been climbing, but mostly because it was so low when measured by the New Jersey-based Rasmussen automated poll.

In March, Lingle had a 45 percent approval mark, which since then has climbed to 51 percent, as of a Rasmussen poll taken last week.

So far there has been some interest by Abercrombie in making part of the campaign a referendum of Lingle.

"I simply can't detect anything of a credible nature in terms of a different approach," Abercrombie told the AP.

And Laurie Au, Abercrombie's spokeswoman, called Aiona's plans a continuation of Lingle's agenda.

A recent Maui News editorial, however, declared Lingle as Hawaii's BFF.

"We are sorry Lingle can't run for another term ... She is our idea of what a gutsy, principled politician should be," the paper swooned.

Still, there seems to be little benefit in Abercrombie running as the anti-Lingle, or Aiona measuring himself as Lingle 2.0.

Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Reach him at

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