BY BARRY FUKUNAGA – It is unfortunate that Congresswoman Mazie Hirono has launched her Senatorial Campaign by misleading the public and mischaracterizing former Governor Linda Lingle’s record on energy independence and education reform, and her relationship with President Obama.

Hirono’s deliberate distortion of Governor Lingle’s record is particularly reprehensible given the Representative’s lack of any record of achievement or vision for Hawaii or America’s future in these two key areas.

From the very beginning of her tenure as governor, Linda Lingle championed efforts to reform public education including modernizing the governance structure, revamping poor performing schools, instituting merit pay for teachers, and increasing the rigor of standardized achievement tests. She was also at the forefront of STEM programs, especially robotics programs statewide.

The Governor’s Administration played a pivotal role in developing the Race to the Top public education program that was awarded $75 million in Federal funds and won praise from President Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.  She aggressively pushed for college and career ready diploma standards in our high schools, an effort that mirrors the standards being recommended at the federal level.

Governor Lingle supports the President and any other public official, regardless of their party affiliation, when they propose good ideas. But unlike Hirono’s lockstep Party loyalty, the Governor is also willing to let the public know when she disagrees with policies she believes are not in Hawaii’s or America’s best interest.

After decades of inaction on energy, during which Representative Hirono was a state legislator and then a two-term Lt. Governor, Governor Lingle’s Administration launched Hawaii firmly on the path toward energy independence.

Hirono either purposely failed to acknowledge Governor Lingle’s landmark, community-based effort known as the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), or she has been away from Hawaii so long she is out of touch with the progress that has been made in this critical area. President Obama’s Dept. of Energy has lauded the HCEI as a model for other states.

Voters need to ask themselves what has Mazie Hirono done in more than 25 years in various State and federal government positions, and why did she start her campaign by attacking someone else’s record instead of talking about her own.

Perhaps it is because she just doesn’t have much to show for so many years in public office. Her “Johnny come lately” focus on jobs and the economy belies a record of little in the way of tangible achievements.

Whatever the match-up may be in the U.S. Senate race, I hope voters will look at the facts, not at the rhetoric generated by candidates with few achievements of their own.


Barry Fukunaga is the Former Chief of Staff to Governor Linda Lingle