Former Gov. Linda Lingle announced today that she will enter the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
Lingle, the first woman and the first Republican elected governor in four decades, will stress her chief executive experience in her campaign.
She described governors as "very practical people because we had to get things done as governors."
Lingle also said she would be an independent voice for Hawaii. "I want to be real clear on this point: I don’t work for (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell, and for that matter I don’t work for President Obama. I work for the people of Hawaii," she said on the Perry & Price radio show.
"And if there is a law being proposed, whether it’s from the president or from Mitch McConnell, if it’s good for Hawaii I’m for it. If it’s not good for us, I’m against it regardless of who introduces it."
Lingle will face John Carroll, an attorney and former state lawmaker, in the Republican primary.
U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case are the Democratic contenders to replace U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who is not seeking another term next year.
State Rep. Barbara Marumoto (R, Kalani Valley-Diamond Head) said she believes Lingle will have an excellent chance against Hirono or Case. Lingle defeated Hirono in the governor’s race in 2002 after Hirono beat Case in the primary. She said she does not believe that having President Barack Obama also on the ballot next year will be too high an obstacle for the former governor.
"People don’t vote Democrat, Democrat, Democrat," Marumoto said. "They usually split a ticket here and there."
Marumoto also said that Obama "is not doing so well these days."
In an email, Case said, "Hawaii needs a senator who will apply our values to the changes so deeply needed on Capitol Hill. Those values, my values, are best represented by the Democratic Party, while Linda’s first vote in the Senate would be for a leadership and agenda that would tank our economy, skimp on education and welsh on our promises to seniors and veterans.
"Hawaii needs a senator who will reject purely partisan politics and get things done. Despite what she’ll say, that wasn’t Linda’s record as governor and she deserted Hawaii at crucial times to campaign for mainland Republicans."
Jadine Nielsen, the finance chairwoman for the Hirono campaign, also linked Lingle to mainland conservatives. "Republican Linda Lingle’s announcement today isn’t particularly surprising," she said in an email. "The national Republican Party has been anxious to move Lingle back to center stage as they did at the 2008 Republican National Convention, when Lingle went on national television to second Sarah Palin’s nomination for vice president and endorse the McCain-Palin ticket over our island son, Barack Obama."
Carroll said the GOP primary could be "a very public debate over the core beliefs of Hawaii’s Republican Party." Jonah Kaauwai, a conservative, resigned as party chairman in September after the moderate Lingle and several of her allies lost confidence in his leadership.
"This primary will be about what we stand for," Carroll said in a statement. "We call on Linda to debate us on the issues as often as possible, the people of Hawaii deserve to know what they are voting on."
National Democrats are highlighting Lingle’s ties to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Lingle, who knew Palin from the Republican Governors Association, spoke warmly of Palin when she was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2008 and helped introduce her at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.
"Today marks Linda Lingle’s biggest announcement since she nominated Sarah Palin for Vice President, an event that typifies Lingle’s partisan Republican approach to governing," said Matt Canter, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "Now Lingle wants to go to Washington to become a rubber-stamp for Mitch McConnell and the Republican party whose sole priority is to defeat President Obama at every turn."
Former state adjutant general Robert Lee is serving as Lingle’s campaign manager.
On the Web: www.lingle2012.com