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Ms. Lingle goes to Washington -- so is a decision imminent?

By Richard Borreca

LAST UPDATED: 2:23 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

Former Gov. Linda Lingle likes to plan ahead. Her staff used to say that instead of "going with the moment," the governor prefers her plans mapped out six weeks in advance.

Now Lingle says she will announce her decision on a race for the U.S. Senate in mid-August. So if this is already mid-July, we have to assume that Hawaii's former leader is already holding tickets for Mazatlan or fine-tuning her announcement speech.

The middle of August is a good time to announce. The primary election is Aug. 11, 2012, so an announcement next month gives her one year to clear the decks, define her campaign and get on with general election strategy.

Lingle spent last week in Washington, D.C., ostensibly appearing on a panel as a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Governors' Council. It is also where you would be if you were firming up plans for a senatorial campaign.

"She is in Washington right now looking for feedback from powers that be," reports state Rep. Gen Ward, House GOP leader.

The obligatory Washington tour is an important part of any serious major campaign, even in the isolated outpost of Hawaii.

Former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, the former GOP city councilman, recalls that his trips to Washington were essential in launching his campaign.

Just because you know and are known by the local Honolulu news media doesn't mean anything to the national press corps based in Washington, Djou says. An aspiring member of Congress may not be having a beer with the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza or MSNBC's Chris Matthews, but there are a lot of down-in-the-trenches reporters at Politico, Roll Call, Congressional Quarterly and The Hill who cover Congress.

"They are the ones who will be covering your race and it is good to get your face on their map," Djou said.

Perhaps the most important contact to make is with the national congressional committees for the Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate. Those committees will decide how much party support a candidate will get, so it is critical to get on their good side.

Last year there was a continuing struggle between Ed Case and Colleen Hanabusa for support by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC took polls showing that Case was stronger than Hanabusa in a three-way race with Djou. But, Hawaii senior U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who backed Hanabusa, started dropping money bombs on the DCCC. After receiving $150,000 from Inouye, the DCCC backed off its unofficial support for Case.

If Lingle does run, you can expect her to be the sweetheart of the GOP rodeo.

Both Ward and Djou are encouraging her to make the race, but Djou, who both won and lost last year, had a warning.

"This race is not a walk in the park, it will take a substantial commitment of your life and no guarantee that even if you work the hardest, you are going to be successful," Djou said.

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

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