NEW YORK – Hawaii was once a paradise for the Democratic Party, but Republicans have the opportunity to launch a sneak attack on the island state and put their own in the statehouse for the first time since 1962.
It's a tight race between Democratic Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and Republican Linda Lingle, the former GOP state chairwoman and Maui County mayor. Lingle is taking advantage of the state’s economic troubles and corruption charges aimed at the Democrats.
But Lingle lost the race once before to current Gov. Ben Cateyano. In 1998, she launched an impressive campaign in this majority Democratic state, but fell short by 5,000 votes. As in that case, Lingle's win could come down to getting the voters to turn out, something Democrats excel at.
The race has been plagued by nasty rumors -- pamphlets have circulated claiming Lingle is a lesbian, and Lingle has been accused of wanting to cancel Christmas as a state holiday. Advertising is fierce and heavy, and observers have vowed to keep an eye on the ballot boxes to ensure against improprieties at the polls.