The Rail Election

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

It's an unusual sight: political signs for Ben Cayetano and Linda Lingle, side by side in the same yard.

These days, you'll often see a sign for Charles Djou along with them. Look closely at the photograph on this page and you'll even see a bumper sticker for Panos Prevedouros along with stickers for Djou, Lingle and Cayetano.

What's going on here?

Is it really possible that the same person who plans to vote for a Democrat like Cayetano on Nov. 6 could also cast a ballot for Republicans Lingle and Djou? That the same voter may have even supported Prevedouros for Honolulu mayor in 2008 and 2010?

"You betcha," as a certain former governor from Alaska likes to say.

Hawaii's 2012 election is about a lot of things: about how many Democrats will control the Hawaii Legislature, whether Republicans can pick up any seats, whether there will be enough dissidents to overthrow the House speaker, whether the Big Island will stick with its current mayor or go back to its former one.

But on Oahu, it's mostly about one issue: rail.

Because Cayetano fell short of the necessary 50-percent-plus-one votes to win the Aug. 11 primary outright, he faces Kirk Caldwell in a runoff.

That means Cayetano, the former governor, is on the ballot with his old nemesis, Lingle, the candidate who almost stopped his re-election in 1998.

These two politicians don't like each other much. Yet, Lingle's fate may depend in part on Cayetano pulling the anti-rail vote that might also be sympathetic to her candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

That race pits Lingle against Mazie Hirono, Cayetano's lieutenant governor and the woman Lingle defeated to win the governorship in 2002.

What an odd election year. We'll know how it all shakes out just two months from today.

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