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Linda Lingle Up to Challenge of Hawaii Senate Race

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle on Tuesday officially entered the race for retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka’s seat.

The law restricting out-of-state money, sometimes called the Lingle Law, was put in place following Lingle's 1-point loss in the 1998 gubernatorial race, when she raised significant money outside of the state. Lingle conceded she will need to raise dollars on the mainland but noted that Democratic federal officeholders consistently raise a majority of their money outside Hawaii. Doing so, she said, would be no problem.

According to a schedule of events for the pro-Israel group Norpac that was obtained by Roll Call, there is a fundraiser scheduled for Lingle, who is Jewish, on Oct. 30 at a private home in Lawrence, N.Y.

One way Lingle will tell donors she can win is by reminding them of what happened in 2002, when Hirono, then the lieutenant governor, and Ed Case, then a state Representative, battled for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Hirono won the primary by 2 points and then lost to Lingle by 5 points in the general election.

Hirono and Case are running against each other again, this time for Senate. Just as last time, Hirono is running with the establishment support. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D), the top political figure in the state, is still upset at Case for challenging Akaka in 2006. And last week Inouye told the Hawaii press that he intends to vote for Hirono in the Democratic primary.

"This election cycle should be most interesting and very exciting," Inouye said in a statement following Lingle's entrance.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee immediately tied Lingle on Tuesday to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whom Lingle formally nominated at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

In a statement, DSCC spokesman Matt Canter also tied Lingle to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and national Republicans "whose sole priority is to defeat President Obama at every turn."

But Lingle said tying her to the national party won't work for Democrats. Voters in Hawaii know her as a strong fiscal conservative, she said, yet also as someone who is often criticized by members of her own party. Lingle said the economy and the federal budget will be the top issues in the race and that she has the right message on those issues.

"We're in an economy that's reliant on tourism, and that means we need a strong American economy," Lingle said. "When people are worried about the future, they don't take trips to Hawaii."

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