3. Linda Lingle
Title: Governor of the State of Hawaii
Nickname: Steady Eddie
Power Surge: Last session, Gov. Linda Lingle’s plan for school reform was quickly and unceremoniously flunked by the state Legislature. Midway through her term, she has twice battled lawmakers at the Capitol to a virtual stalemate. But she does seem to be getting high marks from the public. Lingle, a confident and polished speaker, has consistently beaten up on the Leg in almost every public forum. According to a Honolulu Star-Bulletin/KITV-4 News poll released in August, 42 percent of the voters believed that Lingle was doing a better job than the Legislature. Nineteen percent said that the Legislature was doing better and 13 percent said neither. But does this dissatisfaction translate into real political muscle? The public-locally and nationally-distrusts legislatures as a rule. (Saddam Hussein would probably poll favorably when compared to most legislative bodies.) Only time-and another election-will tell.
Power Play: After losing to Ben Cayetano in 1998, Lingle went back to the drawing board and the grass-roots and transformed herself into a formidable campaigner for herself and, more importantly, her party. Today, she has a much more stable base and, unlike the fractured Democratic Party, the vision thing.
Personal Voltage: Lingle hasn’t made a major political misstep yet, and as a result is able to project an image of honesty and integrity. Although she rode into office on a wave of change, Lingle’s first two years in office have been characterized by steady, deliberate leadership. It hasn’t been an especially dynamic administration, but for an electorate that just wanted something different, it may be more than enough.