Lean Democrat

March 9th, 2012

Stuart Rothenberg, the political analyst behind The Rothenberg Political Report, explained in a column in Roll Call this week why he has not joined others in rating the Hawaii U.S. Senate race a tossup.

He believes former Gov. Linda Lingle, the leading Republican, has political skills but too high a hurdle to climb in a traditionally Democratic state with Hawaii-born President Barack Obama also on the ballot for re-election.

From Rothenberg:

My skepticism about Lingle, 58, has nothing to do with her candidate skills or political appeal.

Any Republican who can win two terms as governor in Hawaii obviously has political savvy and knows how to connect with voters. When she was re-elected in 2006, an absolutely horrible year for Republicans, Lingle drew more than 62 percent of the vote.

Nor is money a major issue. Lingle, who served eight years as mayor of Maui before she narrowly lost a gubernatorial bid in 1998, showed more than $1.4 million in the bank at the end of December, about $350,000 more than her likely general election opponent, Rep. Mazie Hirono (D), and far more than Hirono’s chief adversary for the Democratic nomination, ex-Rep. Ed Case.

Lingle’s problem is that no Republican has won a Hawaii Senate race in more than 40 years, and the last Republican to win a statewide federal election was Ronald Reagan in 1984.

The odds against any Republican running statewide are enormous, and President Barack Obama’s presence on the ticket doesn’t help her prospects. He won 72 percent of the vote last time, and while his numbers might slide, Lingle will need to get the votes of at least 100,000 Hawaiians who vote for Obama for president. That’s not impossible, but it places a heavy burden on her.

Lingle was able to win statewide in spite of her party. Now, she’ll be running in a federal race in a presidential year, when partisanship runs high. And like Mike Sullivan and Kathy Karpan, popular statewide Democratic officials in Wyoming in the 1990s, Inez Tenenbaum, a popular Democratic statewide official in South Carolina more than a dozen years ago, and Bill Weld, a one-time successful Massachusetts Republican governor, Lingle is likely to find the jump from a state race to a federal contest quite challenging.

So, while Lingle is a serious candidate and her candidacy certainly deserves watching, she faces a very difficult task. And that’s why the Rothenberg Political Report rates the Hawaii Senate race as Lean Democrat. (Roll Call also rates the contest as Leans Democratic.)

10 Responses to “Lean Democrat”

  1. Kolea:

    A majority of Hawaii voters do not like the national Republican Party’s ideas. This was true before they went off the deep end. But the wave of ever-increasing extremism which has gripped first the Republican caucus in the US House of Representatives, has taken over the GOP caucus in the US Senate in recent years. And it has infected all four of the Republican candidates for president, as each tries to prove themselves further to the right than the next.

    It is overly simplistic to say the US Senate race will tilt pro-Democratic because Obama is on the ballot. It will alsi tip against the Republicans because our voters are recoiling from the antics of the Insane Clown Posse running for President on the Republican ticket.

    Regardless of how much Lingle presents herself as a moderate Republican, the race for control of the US Senate is too close to call. The winner of the Senate seat in Hawaii might determine which party will control the US Senate. If Hawaii voters see this race as potential tipping the balance, that means a vote for lLngle is a vote to turn control of the Senate over to the hard right national Republican Party. Senators who deny pollution in contributing to climate change, who want to make abortion and perhaps even birth control pills illegal, who believe the rich SHOULD get richer as the middle class collapses and who are way too eager to commit our troops into an endless series of wars.

    A vote for Lingle is a vote to turn the Senate over to the national Republican obstructionists. And Hawaii voters will not agree to that. They are too crazy. Heck, the national Republicans embarrass a lot of our local Republicans, who remain fairly moderate themselves.

  2. Goober:

    lingle has the backing of the unions, making her a marionette. lingle is not for Hawaii but for the republican party. she being a transplant knows nothing of Hawaii. she being a journalist major only knows to correct others on their grammar.

  3. Eric Ryan:

    This isn’t BAD news for Lingle. This is actually a CALL TO ARMS for Hawaii Republicans and their State Party to drop everything and put all of its resources into helping Lingle with this uphill battle. We already have so many elected Republicans in Hawaii that we can afford to focus 100% on electing Lingle. Heck, we did that in 2006 when she was running for re-election against a nobody (Randy Iwase) and said nothing in protest while Lingle squandered millions that year on an easily won race. So what if everyone else loses. Let’s call 2006 a practice run for 2012. All volunteers, all resources, all monies MUST be directed by Hawaii Republicans towards Lingle. Forget everything else. Forget everyone else. Forget Lingle’s anti-Republican policies and record of tax hikes and wasteful spending and government-sanctioned racism. LINGLE ALL THE WAY. C’mon fellow Republicans. Like moths to a flame, like lemmings over the falls, like people who don’t know any better and never learn from mistakes. Sure, Linda Lingle might be a RINO, but dammit she’s OUR RINO. And after watching Aiona/Finnegan/Djou and everyone else bite the dust in 2010, we need to feel good about something, don’t we? Let’s go all in for Lingle and waste another two years in which we cede the Legislature and all other elected offices to the Democrats. This plan has already been approved anyway. That’s why the Hawaii GOP has provided the public with ZERO RATIONALE to care about any other race, or any issues, or why people should rethink voting for the dominant incumbent party. The same people who bankrupted the Hawaii GOP last time (while pretending they didn’t) are still running the party now. Nothing has changed, it’s still Lingle, Lingle, Lingle . . . and still no reason to vote R instead of D.

  4. ohiaforest3400:

    Kolea, you should be ashamed for demeaning that fine/eclectic/eccentric music ensemble known as Insane Clown Posse by comparing them to the Four GOP Stooges!

  5. Kolea:

    Ohia, You’re right. To make it up, let me post a link to a video so others can clue in to what you’re saying.

    And folks can decide for themselves if there may be a family resemblance or not:


  6. Goober:

    Fat Chance! lingle should be set out in the pastures.

  7. Nuff Said:

    Kolea, you are right about the Senate race here being the race that could decide control of the US Senate. That is why it is so hard to believe that Senator Inouye would risk it all, including his chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the President Pro Tempore, on Mazie Hirono who lost to Lingle once before in 2002 after forty years of democratic leadership in Washington Place. Those are a lot of chips that the Senior Senator is putting on the table. I think what the Roll Call does not take into account is the substantial difference in debating skills between Lingle and Hirono. Once the two candidates are matched up on statewide television, it will be very difficult for Mazie Hirono’s campaign. That is exactly what happened in 2002. Ed Case knows it, too, and he has been trying very hard to get Mazie Hirono to start debating him in multiple forums. Hirono’s handlers have been able to dodge him so far and Case probably does not have the campaign organization or the money to get him through the primary. Lingle will not have these types of challenges in the general election. Yes, President Obama is certainly an obstacle for Lingle, but I think that is what will keep the race very close, rather than an advantage for Lingle. This race is definitely a toss up, rather than a race that leans democratic.

  8. Goober:

    lingle won once over Hirono. she will lose this time. lingle like another missionary is not about Hawaii.

  9. Kolea:

    @ Nuff Said,

    I do not place as much importance on debates as you do. Ed Case is good with words, but his voting record sucks. I think for most voters, it will be his record, their sense of his values and what he stands for which will decide whether they vote for him. The same is true for Mazie and Lingle.

    Having said that, I think Mazie should debate Ed. The format matters, but I think there are a few knockout punches which can be delivered which would stop him in his tracks. I think the same is true of Lingle. The attacks on Mazie are pretty lazy and I think can be responded to in a way to minimize their harm. They say she is not “independent” and under control of Inouye or “the Old Boy Network.” Mostly, I think that is based upon racist assumptions by people too dull-witted to recognize the differences in Mazie and Inouye’s voting records, as well as the lack of support she has gotten from them in the past.

    Another lazy criticism asks “What has she accomplished?” which displays a simplistic notion of the varying ways in which a congresscritter makes a difference.

    If hte purpose of a debate is to demonstrate who is more clever with words, I see no value in them. If the point is to help voters understand the positions and personality of the candidates, fine. And, I think it is helpful to allow each candidate to ask the other, point blank, to explain their record or positions. I think a well-prepared Hirono could inflict serious damage on both Lingle and Case in debates, though I think she should limit the number so they do not see her pointed criticisms coming. I think Case and Lingle BOTH are inservice of extremely flawed missions. Lingle says she can bring value to Hawaii by being bipartisan and moderate, yet she is unable or unwilling to criticize the lack of moderation coming from her side, which is where most of the craziness resides. And because, as i said, her election would empower the hardline Republicans and weaken moderation rather than strengthen it.

    Ed’s argument is that he is smart and, like Lingle, bipartisan. First, he is not so smart, as his record shows. Alone among Hawaii’s congressional delegation, he fell hook line and sinker for the many lies of the Bush administration for going to war in Iraq, and then was trapped by his own need to demnstrate “toughness” in military affairs and was unwilling to withdraw until the “mission was accomplished.” Secondly, his brand of “moderation” was to work with the Blue Dog caucus in Congress, a group which colluded with Bush on many issues rather than oppose him and who seriously undermined Obama’s efforts to enact a stronger healthcare initiative. Surprise! Much of the funding for the Blue Dogs came from (wait for it….) the corporate healthcare companies.

    Most hawaii Democratic voters want Obama to be MORE BOLD and to NOT capitulate to the bully tactics of the congressional Republicans and their corporate paymasters. Ed’s form of “bipartisan moderation” may gain him support from some Hawaii Republicans, but they will bail out on him in favor of Lingle should he win the nomination. Among Democrats. we prefer Mazie’s steady and consistent voting record in support of working families, for education, healthcare, environmental protection, good jobs and a less interventionist foreign policy.

    So, yeah, I’d like to see at least one debate in the primary and one in the general. I think both Ed and Lingle are extremely vulnerable to fair, pointed criticisms of their records and the realistic consequences of their “bipartisan” plans to weaken Obama rather than encourage him to be bolder.

  10. Goober:

    Next election there should be an ID check to see if those who vote are qualified to Vote in Hawaii.
    If not a residence of Hawaii, vote Mainland only.

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