The Hotline, in its first installment of monthly rankings for the most competitive U.S. Senate races next year, puts Hawaii at No. 11.
U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and former congressman Ed Case are the Democrats out to replace U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who is not seeking another term. Former Gov. Linda Lingle is the leading Republican contender.
HAWAII (Open, Sen. Daniel Akaka retiring)
Former Gov. Linda Lingle is probably the one Republican in the country who embraces the RINO label. She needs to be seen as an independent in President Obama’s home state. Lingle will benefit from what’s likely to be a major schism in the Democratic field, as Rep. Mazie Hirono and ex-Rep. Ed Case battle it out in a late primary. But she may need as many as 20 points of split-ticket voting to overcome Obama’s huge support; Republicans haven’t elected a senator in the Aloha State since Hiram Fong won reelection in 1970.