UPDATED 1/26/12 5:46 a.m.

WASHINGTON — Hawaii may not be known for its Republicans, but the first fundraising figures out of former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle‘s campaign for U.S. Senate shows that Republicans are committed to changing the balance of power in the aloha state.

Lingle raked in nearly $1.8 million in her first three months of fundraising, according to her campaign. The majority of her donations came from out of state, with 44 percent of donations coming from Hawaii residents.

The former governor was able to pull in nearly three times as much as the Democratic frontrunner in the race, Rep. Mazie Hirono.

Hirono raised $624,363 last quarter, which was a record-breaking fundraising showing for the congresswoman in this campaign. According to her campaign, 49 percent of Hirono’s donations came from Hawaii residents. She has more than $1 million in cash on-hand.

Hirono’s Democratic challenger, Ed Case, has not yet released his fundraising figures for the quarter that ended on Dec. 31. Case has struggled to keep up with Hirono in fundraising. He netted $134,417 in the three-month period that ended in Sept. 30.

To put Lingle’s numbers in perspective: She raised more in three months than Hirono has raised in three quarters. Here’s a look at what Hawaii’s three best-known candidates in the U.S. Senate race have raised over the course of the past six months (the dates in the table refer to the amount raised in the quarter that ended that date):

Candidate March 311 June 30 Sept. 30 Dec. 31 Net Amount Raised
Linda Lingle Not yet in race Not yet in race Not yet in race $1,767,310 $1,767,310
Mazie Hirono Not yet in race $281,268 $302,444 $624,363 $1,208,075
Ed Case $72,460 $147,940 $134,417 Unknown $354,817

Lingle’s powerful fundraising start is not surprising. Not only is the former governor known for her ability to raise money, she’s a high-profile candidate in a race that’s already in the national spotlight.

With Lingle on the Republican ticket, Hawaii is seen as one of the states that could help the GOP reclaim a U.S. Senate majority. Outgoing Sen. Daniel Akaka, a true-blue Democrat, announced last year that he would not seek re-election. Lingle will face attorney John Carroll in the GOP primary.

Republicans need to win three2 or four seats in order to take back the Senate. Lingle has said she believes she’ll need to raise as much as $10 million for her Senate campaign.

Lingle’s opponents will likely try to use the strong showing as a way to bolster support for their own campaigns. Hirono has showed fundraising momentum each quarter, and will have to convince supporters to continue that trend. The more moderate Case has argued that Hirono’s fundraising is a product of her incumbency, but that he has a better chance to defeat Lingle than Hirono does. The Hirono campaign rejects that claim, and has produced poll results that suggest otherwise.

The Hirono campaign Wednesday said was putting together a response Lingle campaign’s announcement. Complete campaign finance reports are not yet available. They’re due to the Federal Election Commission at the end of the month.

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