POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 29, 2010
Gov. Linda Lingle stepped in yesterday to defend Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, the Republican candidate for governor, from a new television advertisement by the Democratic Party of Hawaii that alleges he did nothing to save Aloha Airlines or stop teacher furloughs and was part of an administration that violated state law on the Hawaii Superferry.
The TV ad -- similar in theme to recent newspaper ads -- features an empty chair and ends with the line, "Duke Aiona for governor? Come on. Get real."
Lingle, at a news conference at the state Capitol, said she considers the spot an "11th-hour smear of my administration."
The Republican governor asked Democrats to take down the ad. She also said former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, the Democratic candidate for governor, and U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who recently appeared in a party ad calling for civility, should reject the ad.
"This is clearly an attempt to prop up their candidate for governor, and if Neil Abercrombie had any character, he would condemn this ad," Lingle said. "And if Sen. Inouye would walk his talk about sticking to the issues, he also would call on his party to take this ad off the air because it is such a blatant distortion and misstatement of the facts as everyone knows them to be."
Dante Carpenter, chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, said Lingle's remarks seem hypocritical since she did not speak out against ads by Republicans that were harshly dismissive of Abercrombie's record in Congress.
"We think our ads are right on, and actually it speaks to the Lingle-Aiona administration's record," he said. "We don't think it's a smear."
The Abercrombie campaign declined to comment.
Peter Boylan, a spokesman for Inouye, said there was nothing factually incorrect about the ad.
"The senator's message was simple: Stick to the issues, don't compromise your values," he said in an e-mail. "We didn't see anything factually incorrect in the empty chair, empty space ad. We have yet to hear how the Lingle-Aiona administration attempted to stave off the devastating circumstances created by the bankruptcies of Aloha Airlines, the Superferry and Furlough Fridays.
"We think the people of Hawaii are tired of false accusations and negative campaigning."
The Democrats' ad is focused on Aiona, not Lingle, although it refers to "his administration."
Lingle said Aiona was part of the administration's decision-making on Aloha Airlines and Hawaii Superferry. She did not address teacher furloughs, but Aiona has previously said he favored straight pay cuts that would have achieved labor savings but kept teachers in the classroom.
Lingle said she met with an official at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. in Washington, D.C., in 2006 to discuss worker pension issues at Aloha, asked the bankruptcy court not to allow the shutdown in 2008 until the airline exhausted alternatives, and provided state labor assistance to workers who lost their jobs.
Lingle has insisted her administration followed all state laws on the Superferry, even though the state Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the state should have required an environmental review of the project. The court ruled in 2009 that a state law that allowed Superferry to operate while a belated environmental review was conducted was also unconstitutional, which triggered Superferry's shutdown and bankruptcy.