After 10-months of near silence, the slickest political team in modern Hawaii history — Linda Lingle‘s — is back in business.

Fittingly, the former Hawaii governor announced her campaign for the U.S. Senate not once but twice on Tuesday, both times to great fanfare.

The first announcement came on the popular “Perry and Price” show on KSSK radio. It was like Arnold Schwarzenegger telling Jay Leno he was running for California governor.

The second announcement — after the news of her candidacy had already blanketed the local media — came just after noon at the regal Pacific Club, where Lingle had long been scheduled to address a luncheon.

The luncheon was sponsored by — wait for it — the Honolulu chapter of Sales and Marketing Executives International.

Whatever one’s views on her politics, Lingle knows her public relations.

Campaign Foreshadowed

Lingle’s announcement had long been expected. She had dropped hints ever since leaving the governorship in December. By waiting until October, she is likely the last major candidate to jump into a congressional race.

Before most folks in Hawaii were awake the news had already spread via national political blogs and media outlets. Her expected candidacy was also on the front page of Honolulu’s daily newspaper, Internet sites and television news and radio programs that morning, throughout the day and into the evening.

Meanwhile, an advertisement for the Lingle campaign cropped up on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s website by midmorning. “Click here to learn more,” it reads.

Locally, by sharing the news on KSSK and then at the Pacific Club, Lingle was reaching out to two key constituencies: the hoi polloi and the elite.

Lingle had promised KSSK radio stars Michael W. Perry and Larry Price that, should she run for Senate, she would tell them first. With communications guru Lenny Klompus and campaign manager Bob Lee at her side in the studio, she made good on her word.

Perry later told Civil Beat, “She just showed up with her camera crew, dressed in blue and black and looking sharp. She was happy and very positive, and you could see that she had made her decision, was at peace with it and ready for bear. She knows what she is doing.”

Perry, who noted that Lingle’s appearance was posted on KSSK’s website, said he could not remember the last time a prominent local political candidate announced on his show.

Perry, like Lingle a political conservative, treated her with kid gloves.

“I asked her that, if she was in the Senate right now, would she be for or against jobs bill,” said Perry. “She said, ‘I don’t know, I haven’t read it.’ And I thought, ‘That’s an interesting concept — that, yes, we have to start reading bills, because there are some really poison pills in there.'”

Tuning in to Perry’s repartee with Lingle was the largest radio audience in the state. Great PR, and all free of charge.

On Message

By time Lingle rolled into the Pacific Club at midday, every major news outlet in town was there to hear what she had to say to the marketing executives.

Civil Beat was there, of course, and we could easily give you the highlights of her campaign’s focus.

But, why not just read all about it on Lingle’s newly minted campaign website?

Click on the website’s issues link and it’s all there — like jobs and the economy (“I will work every day to ensure that the nearly 14 million Americans who are currently looking for work can find gainful employment”), national security and defense (“I will advocate for and work toward the preservation of America’s security forces that will insure stability and deterrence from armed aggression in the Asia-Pacific region”), tourism (“We can create 1.3 million new jobs simply by restoring the United States’ share of the travel market to its 2000 levels”), etc.

Or, read Lingle’s nifty new Twitter handle, @lingle2012 (70 followers), which features a customized Twitter background. By late afternoon, Lingle had already tweeted 16 times, including this one:

“We want people to work together. As a Republican in Hawaii, I’ve had to work across party lines to get things done.”

(According to her twitter feed, Lingle also “discussed her decision” on Rick Hamada’s KHVH radio show before she went to KSSK. So, technically, she announced three times.)

Lingle’s Facebook page, meanwhile, is even more detailed. Here’s a post from around 4:30 p.m.:

Mahalo to Hawaii News Now for coming down to the SMEI luncheon cover Linda Lingle’s discussion of the importance for Hawaii of having bipartisan representation in the U.S. Senate.

The post had two likes.

Lingle elaborated on her views at the luncheon, of course — for example, how she wants to be America’s “point person” on tourism and how federal agencies should perform the equivalent of an environmental impact statement before implementing new rules and regulations to see whether they kill jobs.

But her campaign is making sure that a very well-structured, controlled story is available for all to see.

The Bipartisan One

Lingle spoke on one issue more than any other: bipartisanship. As the country appears to be turning toward the GOP, she reasons, Hawaii needs a Republican in the Senate.

Several times, Lingle pointed to “bipartisan” accomplishments she hammered out with the likes of Daniel K. Inouye and Colleen Hanabusa. She linked herself to former governors of both parties now serving in the Senate, a so-called “executive caucus.”

Before taking reporters’ questions, Lingle gave the marketing executives the first shot.

Their questions allowed Lingle to talk about other issues close to her heart, including a strong defense of her handling of the Hawaii Superferry (“Nothing wrong was done … an EIS was never required”) and how she’ll be an independent-minded senator like her buddy Susan Collins of Maine (“I don’t work for Mitch McConnell, I work for the people of Hawaii”).

Asked about her views on national immigration policy, Lingle gave a detailed response that was in effect a strong defense of the multiculturalism that formed Hawaii.

“It’s like the questions were planted,” a reporter whispered to me.

Reporters asked a few questions. They found out Lingle believes she’ll need between $8-10 million to run her campaign and that she doesn’t think criticism of her support for Sarah Palin will stick. No zingers. No gaffes.

Hawaii voters will hear more of Lingle’s views as she takes her campaign across the state. She will also be given greater scrutiny by her opponents and the media.

But Tuesday’s events made for a heck of an opening splash.

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