Former two-term Republican governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle entered the 2012 Senate race last week to replace retiring Democrat Daniel Akaka. A new poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows she may make a competitive showing in a state that has only elected one Republican to the U.S. Senate in its 61-year history.
The PPP survey shows Lingle competing with both potential Democratic opponents. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono leads Lingle by only six points, and Lingle has the lead over former congressman Ed Case (Akaka's challenger in the 2006 Democratic primary) by two points. That's an improvement for Lingle, PPP says, from a March poll shortly after she left the governorship that showed her 17 points behind Case and 12 points behind Hirono.
Lingle is the favorite to win the Republican primary over John Carroll, a former state senator. As PPP points out, a win for the GOP in this seat in 2012, with Hawaii native Barack Obama at the top of the ballot, would be difficult. Lingle would be the second Republican senator and the fourth Republican from Hawaii ever sent to Capitol Hill. She first won the governorship in 2002 (after losing in 1998) and was elected to a second term in 2006, serving as the first Republican governor of Hawaii since 1962.