Hirono and Lingle Already Focusing on Each Other

Candidates' respective websites

On Sunday, Linda Lingle's U.S. Senate campaign blasted Mazie Hirono for "padding" her résumé in a recent television ad.

"There she goes again," said campaign manager Bob Lee in a news release. "Hirono is blanketing the airwaves with another misleading ad aimed at beefing up her résumé to divert attention from her sparse record as a Congresswoman and Lieutenant Governor."

Lee charged that Hirono "is well versed in taking credit for the achievements of others."

On Monday — the first day of the new public school year — the Hirono campaign issued a press release reminding everyone of "the fiasco of Republican Linda Lingle's Furlough Fridays."

"The people of Hawaii cannot afford to send someone like Linda Lingle, who is so out of touch with Hawaii values of taking care of our children, to the U.S. Senate where she will help create a Republican majority whose budget plans would create a national educational crisis by slashing support for public education," Hirono stated.

Nothing wrong with going after political opponents in areas where they might be vulnerable.

But Hirono has yet to win the Democratic primary while Lingle has yet to win the Republican primary.

While Lingle is quite likely to defeat her rivals on Aug. 11, Hirono is in a competitive race with former congressman Ed Case. Yet, Hirono has not been exclusively focused on Case.

Even during their final debate, Hirono frequently brought up the former governor as well as former President George W. Bush — in Hirono's view, Lingle's BFF.

A Civil Beat review of press releases, campaign ads and other materials shows that Hirono and Lingle have mostly been targeting each other in the weeks leading up to the primary.

Is it because Case is gaining on Hirono? Is it because Case, as polls suggest, could be a stronger general election opponent for Lingle than Hirono?

Asked if there was a strategy at work, Hirono campaign spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said, "We are concentrating on the primary, and our strategy from the beginning has been pretty clear. We have been drawing the contrasts between both Ed and Linda to show the differences between each of them and Mazie."

Lenny Klompus, Lingle's deputy campaign manager and communications director, replied via email: "Setting the record and facts straight regardless who says it and when."

By contrast, here's Case's take:

Mazie Hirono's campaign strategy from the outset has been to pretend that we don't exist. This is why she has refused nearly all debate and joint appearance opportunities for us to talk about issues side by side before the Democratic primary. She has tried every avenue to convey that this primary is a done deal. Obviously this strategy hasn't worked since three recent polls, including one of Civil Beat's, have shown us neck and neck.

Similarly, Linda Lingle has approached the campaign with the same goal because she much prefers for Mazie to be her opponent in the general election. Again, this is supported by the recent polling that shows us doing far better against Lingle in the general than Mazie.

Both Mazie and Lingle know full well that this election will not be decided by the far left or far right but by the growing number of moderate mainstream voters who have supported my candidacy. ...

Have feedback? Suggestions?