Excellent news, if true: former governor Lingle was popular for most of her two terms in office (term limits prevented her from running for a third term in 2010). Some heavily partisan Democrats trumpeted some heavily partisan Democratic polling earlier in the year in an apparent attempt to keep her out of next year’s race; it’s apparently backfired.
This does not necessarily translate to ‘Lingle is a shoo-in.’ The state is reliably Blue these days; it’s one of the few places where the Republican party did unambiguously worse in the 2010 elections (loss of the governorship, a House seat*, and losses in both houses of the state legislature). How bad is it, in fact? Well, let me put it this way: meet Sam Slom, otherwise known as the Hawaiian Republican Senate caucus. The retirement of Sen. Akaka is likewise going to attract a lot of Democratic hopefuls; Hawaii has an institutional tendency to keep re-electing incumbents once they’re in office, which means that anybody getting that Senate seat can reasonably expect it to hold it for a while – even by US Senate standards.
On the other hand, Lingle has a electoral history of running well while behind; the unemployment rate, while well below mainland levels, has doubled since 2008 and shows no sign of abating any time soon; and it’s going to be somewhat difficult to link the pro-choice Lingle to the mainland GOP. At the very least, a competitive race in Hawaii will force the Democrats to spend money in a Senate race, in an environment where they have to already spend money everywhere. In other words: I recommend ‘benign neglect’ if the pro-choice thing sticks in your craw. There are times when you just have to whistle tunelessly and very carefully not look over in a particular direction, and I suspect that this is one of those times…
(H/T: AoSHQ Headlines)
PS: No, seriously, the Hawaii GOP’s got less of a bench to draw from than Massachusetts has.
*Which we mostly only had in the first place because the DCCC couldn’t resist playing (darn it, I don’t know what the local Hawaiian term is for (‘carpetbagger’**) in a special election; thus spoiling their (largely irrelevant) ‘perfect record’ at just the right psychological point for the GOP. Thanks, DCCC!
**I am morally certain that they have one, though.