On Sunday, Linda Lingle‘s U.S. Senate campaign blasted Mazie Hirono for “padding” her résumé in a recent television ad.

“There she goes again,” said campaign manager Bob Lee in a news release. “Hirono is blanketing the airwaves with another misleading ad aimed at beefing up her résumé to divert attention from her sparse record as a Congresswoman and Lieutenant Governor.”

Lee charged that Hirono “is well versed in taking credit for the achievements of others.”

On Monday — the first day of the new public school year — the Hirono campaign issued a press release reminding everyone of “the fiasco of Republican Linda Lingle’s Furlough Fridays.”

“The people of Hawaii cannot afford to send someone like Linda Lingle, who is so out of touch with Hawaii values of taking care of our children, to the U.S. Senate where she will help create a Republican majority whose budget plans would create a national educational crisis by slashing support for public education,” Hirono stated.

Nothing wrong with going after political opponents in areas where they might be vulnerable.

But Hirono has yet to win the Democratic primary while Lingle has yet to win the Republican primary.

While Lingle is quite likely to defeat her rivals on Aug. 11, Hirono is in a competitive race with former congressman Ed Case. Yet, Hirono has not been exclusively focused on Case.

Even during their final debate, Hirono frequently brought up the former governor as well as former President George W. Bush — in Hirono’s view, Lingle’s BFF.

A Civil Beat review of press releases, campaign ads and other materials shows that Hirono and Lingle have mostly been targeting each other in the weeks leading up to the primary.

Is it because Case is gaining on Hirono? Is it because Case, as polls suggest, could be a stronger general election opponent for Lingle than Hirono?

Asked if there was a strategy at work, Hirono campaign spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said, “We are concentrating on the primary, and our strategy from the beginning has been pretty clear. We have been drawing the contrasts between both Ed and Linda to show the differences between each of them and Mazie.”

Lenny Klompus, Lingle’s deputy campaign manager and communications director, replied via email: “Setting the record and facts straight regardless who says it and when.”

By contrast, here’s Case’s take:

Mazie Hirono’s campaign strategy from the outset has been to pretend that we don’t exist. This is why she has refused nearly all debate and joint appearance opportunities for us to talk about issues side by side before the Democratic primary. She has tried every avenue to convey that this primary is a done deal. Obviously this strategy hasn’t worked since three recent polls, including one of Civil Beat’s, have shown us neck and neck.

Similarly, Linda Lingle has approached the campaign with the same goal because she much prefers for Mazie to be her opponent in the general election. Again, this is supported by the recent polling that shows us doing far better against Lingle in the general than Mazie.

Both Mazie and Lingle know full well that this election will not be decided by the far left or far right but by the growing number of moderate mainstream voters who have supported my candidacy. …

Hirono v. Lingle

To be sure, Hirono’s team has been highly critical of Case. But Lingle has been in their sights, too.

During the Democratic Party of Hawaii convention in May, Hirono didn’t even mention Case in her remarks to delegates. The most memorable line from her speech was, “Let’s furlough Linda Lingle.”

The TV spot that prompted Bob Lee’s “résumé padding” jab depicts Hirono taking credit on accomplishments regarding teaching science, technology, engineering and math.

Lingle, you’ll recall, has long emphasized the importance of STEM. Remember her great love of school robotics programs?

The Hirono endorsement by Alaska Rep. Don Young, a Republican, was an obvious slap at Lingle, who argues that she is the best candidate to work across party aisles in Washington.

Meanwhile, Hirono is highlighting on her campaign homepage a detailed indictment of what the campaign says are unfortunate ties between Lingle and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

A July 16 press release from Hirono condemns Senate Republicans for blocking passage of the campaign finance reform DISCLOSE Act “to prevent the bankrolling of elections by special interest groups who end up calling the shots for their candidates once they are in office.”

The press release continues:

Organizations like American Crossroads, spearheaded by Karl Rove, have raised more than $244 million for their chosen Republican candidates, while special interest groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have spent $137 million dollars including half a million in advertising buys here in Hawaii for Republican Linda Lingle.

Hirono has been helped in attacking Lingle by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Last Thursday, the DSCC released its own poll results showing Hirono with a 19-point lead over Lingle in the general election. But the group did not release numbers showing how Hirono fared against Case.

On Friday, the DSCC issued a press release once again calling for Lingle to resign from the Republican Jewish Coalition‘s board of director because of the RJC’s links to interests groups trying to defeat President Barack Obama.

Should Case actually defeat Hirono in the primary, the DSCC will have its hands full trying to kiss and make up to the Democratic nominee for Senate.

Lingle v. Hirono

For her part, Lingle has frequently identified Hirono by name in her campaign.

At the Hawaii Republican Party convention in May, for example, Lingle told delegates, “Let’s come together to make history like we did years ago when I beat Mazie the first time.”

Last Thursday, when Case and Hirono debated on Hawaii News Now, the Lingle team emailed out four fact checks in response to the forum. Three alleged errors on the part of Hirono.

On July 24, Bob Lee had this to say about the Rep. Young endorsement:

It should be troubling to the people of Hawaii that Mazie Hirono’s first attempt to convey any example of bipartisanship is a video advertisement with one of the House of Representative’s most controversial members, who even Mazie’s fellow Democrats have criticized on a range of ethics and spending issues.

Lingle has her own polls, too.

On July 11, she said she led “the favored Democrat opponent by 5 percentage points” — meaning Hirono. Lingle said she was tied with Case.

The day before, on July 10, Lee deemed Hirono’s TV ad on sustainability “all talk and no action.”

Lee continued:

The choice couldn’t be clearer. It’s certainly not Hirono, whose newly manufactured, Mazie-come-lately initiatives offer only platitudes coupled with a laundry list of over-arching self-serving statements.

Lingle has her helpers, of course, namely the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which, has already run three TV ads on her behalf and looks poised to run more after the primary. Through July 18, the ads have cost the Chamber more than $650,000.

But Lingle is running her own spots, too, including TV and banner ads — to the tune of $410,000 through July 25.

Combined, Lingle and the Chamber have spent more money on the primary that Case has raised in total.

Sure, Lingle has the money and no doubt wants to remind voters of her candidacy.

She might also be reminding them, however, to vote Republican in the primary … and to not cross over to the Democratic side to vote for Ed Case.

Follow Civil Beat on Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for Civil Beat’s free daily newsletter.

About the Author