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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 31, 2002

Lingle rules out race for Congress

 •  Lingle campaigns at Leeward college

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau Chief

No matter how the campaign for governor turns out, Linda Lingle said yesterday she would not be a candidate for the 2nd Congressional District seat representing rural O'ahu and the Neighbor Islands.

Speculation in some political circles has been that if Lingle were to lose the very close race for governor, she might bounce back by seeking the congressional seat left vacant by the death of U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink.

Lingle is dismissing that talk, saying she expects to be elected governor. She said she wouldn't be interested in the U.S. House seat even if she were to lose the governor's race.

"There is no chance that I would run for that congressional seat," Lingle said yesterday.

The possibility of a Lingle campaign for Congress has been worrisome to some Democrats.

Mink, hospitalized with viral pneumonia brought on by chickenpox, died Sept. 28, which was too late to name a replacement on the primary election ballot. Democrats are asking the public to vote for Mink on Tuesday as a tribute to her life and work.

If Mink garners the most votes, that would mean a special election in January to select her replacement for the next two years.

A number of prominent Democrats including state Rep. Ed Case, state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, former City Councilman Mufi Hannemann, Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Clayton Hee and former Gov. John Waihee have expressed interest in running if that January election were to be held.

That could set up a divided field of several prominent Democrats, so a prominent Republican with a strong campaign organization such as Lingle's could sweep the special election.

That could still happen, but Lingle said yesterday she won't be the candidate who does it.

"My focus has been on the governor's race for the past five years," she said. "I ran in '98 and I'm running again because I believe that my skills, ability and experience mean that I could be a very effective governor for the people of Hawai'i. I'm not interested in a congressional seat or any other race, and I expect to win this race."