After Senator Daniel Akaka announced earlier this year he would not seek reelection in 2012, few envisioned Hawaii as a battleground in 2012. But after the entrance of popular former Governor Linda Lingle (R) into the race last week, polling shows the GOP may have a shot at flipping the seat from blue to red.
Lingle’s career has defied the political odds. Upon her election in 2002, she became the first Republican Governor of Hawaii in nearly four decades. President Obama, a Hawaii native, carried the state in 2008 with 71.9% of the vote. Lingle’s surge in the polls has Democrats worried.
EMILY’s List, the political action committee dedicated to electing pro-abortion Democratic women, quickly responded to Lingle’s entry by recommending pro-abortion Rep. Mazie Hirono. EMILY’s List candidates must share the group’s political agenda, which supports not one restriction on abortion, including partial-birth abortion and taxpayer funding of abortion.
Hirono holds a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Committee, indicating she has not cast even one pro-life vote in her entire career in the House. Hirono voted for the pro-abortion Obama healthcare law. She also voted against the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (HR 3) and the Protect Life Act (HR 358), both of which seek to limit taxpayer funds being used for abortion. Hirono also supports embryonic stem cell research, voting on three occasions to expand funding for experimentation on human embryos. In several legislative sessions Hirono has cast votes to maintain federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.
Linda Lingle faced off against Hirono in the 2002 gubernatorial election, winning by four points. For Senate in 2012, Public Policy Polling shows Hirono currently leading Lingle in the race by six points. Lingle edges out a victory by 2 points against former Congressman Ed Case, a candidate running in the Democratic primary.
Linda Lingle does not consider herself to be pro-life, however ironically her election to the Senate aids the pro-life movement. A Lingle victory brings the Republican Party one seat closer to a majority. Republican leadership in the Senate, currently headed by Sen. Mitch McConnell, is solidly pro-life. While the Republican-controlled US House has passed pro-life legislation, the Democratic majority headed by pro-abortion Sen. Harry Reid, has consistently voted down pro-life bills or prevented them from reaching the floor for a vote. With Republicans controlling the Senate and setting the agenda, it will be much easier to block pro-abortion judicial nominees in the unfortunate case that President Obama is reelected.
With native son Barack Obama at the top of the ballot, Hawaii will prove difficult for Republicans. But with a viable Republican candidate like Lingle, the race will be much more competitive. At the bare minimum, Lingle’s entry in the race is beneficial because she will force Democrats and pro-abortion groups like EMILY’s List to invest energy and resources into a state previously considered a sure thing.