Time for Republicans to focus on new ideas
For the long-term health of the Republican Party in Hawai'i, Linda Lingle's victory in the governor's race far surpasses a mild disappointment in the state House, where the GOP lost its brief hold on procedural power.
For two years, the 19 House Republican votes were enough to put muscle behind any issue that requires a "super-majority" or two-thirds vote in the 51-seat chamber. The Republicans used that power extensively, forcing bills out of committee and standing against spending issues they opposed.
Now down to 15, the Republicans will have to use the power of ideas rather than the raw power of votes to make themselves heard. That's not a bad thing, all-in-all.
Lingle's election demonstrates that a moderate, focused Republican message can sell well in Hawai'i. And because both houses of the Legislature remain under Democratic control, it is imperative that the message that goes forth carries an appeal to both sides of the aisle.
In her victory speech, Lingle was clear about the task ahead: the necessity of working with all factions and all parties to move Hawai'i forward. There is no doubt that she means it; that was her style as mayor of Maui County.
If Republicans in the House and the newly enlarged but still very much a minority GOP contingent in the Senate take that message to heart, there is the very real possibility that our state will see new ideas taken seriously, new approaches treated with respect and new solutions applied to old and seemingly intractable problems.
Let's count on it.