Lingle’s Chance For Greatness

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - October 04, 2006
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Linda Lingle will be re-elected governor of Hawaii and Dan Akaka goes back to the U.S. Senate.

Ed Case goes back to practicing law and probably strategizing for 2010. You stay out of public life too long and you’re a political goner. Lingle visibly chaired the GOP after her gubernatorial failure first time.

Some will say Lingle wanted an Akaka win. He gets disabled or dies and she’s a natural candidate for the job. But in that event, there will be Neil Abercrombie and Case. No shoo-in at all. No chance of unseating Dan Inouye, of course.

Lingle is a fascinating study. A very liberal Republican, for sure, because Hawaii has shown little aloha for conservatives other than Ronald Reagan. Pro-abortion (more accurately, pro-choice), accomodative on needed taxes, and good on environmental issues.

She must spend some political capital the next four years trying to preserve aloha for a Republican governor candidate in 2010 - a post likely to be sought by Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, who’s probably too religious-conservative for Hawaii voters and is not known as the most brilliant diamond in the display case. The party will have to fear a Case candidacy re-seating a Democrat.

She lost political capital by fawning over George W. Bush in 2004.

She needs to make her mark with smashing programs for low-to-middle-income rentals and innovative homeless solutions - the kind of things sensible politicians in the Legislature won’t vote against because they’re the right things.

We need creative public-private projects for low-cost rentals while dampening zoning for all those gated-and-golfing communities. We must get people off the Leeward beaches or we’ll have an explosive backlash. Voters will say “Goodbye, GOP.”

Really affordable housing of the rent-and-buy kind. Nothing’s more important, and it can define Lingle just as our lease-to-fee land law and employer-paid health insurance defined Jack Burns.

Traffic. Realistically, the best solutions are the most unpalatable and probably only a last-term governor with no further political ambitions could pull them off. (1) Put a prohibitive tax on all new cars brought into the state - toughie because Lingle is a cousin of the Cutter car sellers. (2) Require a transportation-tax decal on any car entering central Honolulu. (3) Use an odd-even license-plate system to regulate central Honolulu access.

She’s got a heck of an opportunity in front of her.

Back us away from more cars, those Trump One/Sheraton projects that wall off Waikiki and only serve the rich. Be the governor that made Hawaii’s housing accessible for our descamisados, the shirtless ones.

Or be a historical footnote. Governor 2002-2010.

And, one more election observation: Newspaper political ads don’t necessarily make you a winner.

Two of the most visible local-office advertisers were Tom Pico, Jr., running for a Windward state senate seat, and Kim Coco Iwamoto, running for the Board of Education. They both spent some very big bucks on newspaper ads.

Neither came even close to a win.

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