Hirono re-entry praised nationally
|||Dems begin to pick up pieces after Harris exit|
|||You can call mood unconventional|
By Susan Roth
Advertiser Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON A spokeswoman for the national Democratic Party said yesterday that Democrats remain optimistic about retaining the Hawai'i governorship in the wake of Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris' sudden withdrawal from the race.
But while she voiced support for Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, who has re-entered the race, Ramona Oliver of the Democratic Governors' Association said the national party would not provide organizational or financial assistance until after the Sept. 21 primary.
Former state Sen. D.G. "Andy" Anderson and state Rep. Ed Case also are running for governor in the Democratic primary.
Meanwhile, Connecticut Gov. John Rowland, chairman of the Republican Governors' Association, said the change is great news for leading GOP candidate Linda Lingle.
"But we have to be sure we don't become overconfident," he said. "We'll keep working and do what we have to do to get a message out and get people to turn out at the polls."
Oliver called Hirono "an outstanding, extremely strong candidate who is a great Democrat and will be very competitive in that race.
"Obviously, this is a disruption," Oliver said. "This kind of change in a campaign is not something that you wish for. But this is not the first time a campaign has been disrupted. There's still a lot of time for a campaign to come together and move forward."
Oliver said the Democratic Party wants to keep Hawai'i in the Democratic column but won't change its strategy. After the primary any assistance would depend on the Hawai'i Democratic Party's needs.
Among the nation's governors now are 27 Republicans, 21 Democrats and two independents. Of the 36 gubernatorial races this year, Republicans hold 23 seats, Democrats 11 and independents two. National political observers generally agree Democrats have a good chance to pick up a few seats.
John Carroll is running against Lingle in the Republican primary.
Even before Harris' departure, Rowland said he and other high-ranking national Republicans considered Lingle "one of our best candidates in one of our hottest races" because she came so close to beating Democratic Gov. Ben Cayetano in 1998. "We've targeted that race from day one," Rowland said.
May 31, 2002 Mayor Harris withdraws from governor's race
May 30, 2002 Companies agree to pay fines
May 27, 2002 Democrats to set agenda
May 21, 2002 Ed Case officially in governor race
May 17, 2002 Council struggles over final budget
May 8, 2002 Harris campaign to act on lost eight weeks
May 8, 2002 Other campaigns appraise effects of court ruling
May 7, 2002 Court clears way for Harris campaign
May 7, 2002 Harris' fund told to give up excess $98,000
July 25, 1999 The Harris project: the first 5 years