HONOLULU – Former Gov. Linda Lingle, Hawaii’s sixth elected governor, on Oct. 11 announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate in the 2012 election.
The open seat was created when Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) stated he would not seek a fifth term.
“I always enjoyed working with Sen. Akaka during my eight years as governor,” Lingle, a Republican, said in her announcement. “He always treated me with aloha even though we belonged to different political parties. Sen. Akaka embodied the spirit of aloha in Washington, D.C. and served the people of Hawaii with grace and dignity for 34 years.
“I am very appreciative of the encouragement I have received from our residents across the state about my run for Hawaii’s open U.S. Senate seat. Because of this support, and after much thoughtful deliberation, I am energized and enthusiastic about the opportunity to serve all the people of Hawaii in Washington. If elected, first, foremost and always, my decisions will put Hawaii people first as we decide the critical issues facing our state and country.”
Building on her experience as a five-term council member on Maui, two-term mayor of Maui and two terms as governor, Lingle said she will also bring to Washington her record of fiscal accountability and executive experience in economic development, stimulating job creation, international relations, clean energy and visitor industry issues.
Among her key policy achievements as governor, Lingle was able to gain wide support for programs and initiatives like the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education expansion for students statewide, improved mental health services, environmental protection initiatives, a big reduction in the number of children in foster care and a drastic reduction in child re-abuse rates, business and economic development and affordable housing construction, especially for the Native Hawaiian community.
Lingle will crisscross the state over the next 13 months to meet with residents, citizen groups, businesses and county leaders, as well as Hawaii’s military and veterans, to discuss the issues that are of the highest priority to them at a national level.
“There is so much that needs to be done in Washington for our residents, and I want my fellow citizens to know their voice will be carried to the nation’s Capitol and their issues will be discussed at the highest level,” said Lingle. “The people deserve to have the best representation possible in Washington and I am honored that so many of our residents have encouraged me to be their voice.”
Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, U.S. Army (retired), former state adjutant general and head of Hawaii’s National Guard during the Lingle Administration, will serve as the campaign manager.
Since the conclusion of her tenure as governor, Lingle has served as one of six founding members of the Governors Council at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a national public policy and advocacy organization in Washington, DC. The council is composed of immediate former governors of both parties who have achieved a record of bipartisan success.
The Democratic candidates for the Senate seat include Rep. Mazie Hirono and former Rep. Ed Case. Hirono, a former lieutenant governor, unsuccessfully ran against Lingle in the 2002 gubernatorial election. Lingle easily won re-election in 2006.
Akaka, currently the only senator of Chinese or Native Hawaiian descent, was appointed to the Senate following the death of Sen. Spark Matsunaga in 1990 and was elected in 1994, 2000 and 2006.