Lingle ad controversy

Lingle ad controversy

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Republican Linda Lingle's new television commercials for has Democrats up in arms.

Her opponent in the Senate race, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, said the ad is misleading for featuring speakers like Maui resident Elaine Slavinsky, who calls herself a Democrat who supports former Gov. Lingle.

Public records show that Slavinsky ran unsuccessfully for state Senate as a Republican in 2004.

In all, Hirono officials say that seven of the eight speakers in the so-called "Democrats for Lingle" ad have strong Republican ties.

They include an employee of the Lingle campaign, a retired state judge and a former chair of the Maui Republican Party, who also ran for office as a Republican.

"It's obviously misleading and deceptive and tries to fool the people of Hawaii into thinking there's a large group of Democrats that are supporting the Lingle campaign when obviously that's not true," said Andy Winer, a senior advisor to the Hirono campaign.

Lingle officials say the ad doesn't claim that all of the speakers are Democrats. They say that their production company mislabeled the ads as "Democrats for Lingle." The ads has been renamed "People Across the State Agree."

Campaign Manager Robert Lee added that Slavinsky, in particular, assured them she's a Democrat.

"When other people say they are Democrats, I don't ask them 'Oh is there a criteria on how long you have been a Democrat?'"

Political analysts say that Lingle faces a tough battle in the Senate race and this misstep won't help.

"The fact that Linda Lingle has such an uphill battle because of the partisanship of the state, she cannot afford too many mistakes and she cannot afford too many events like this," said Nathan Gonzales, Deputy Editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Rothenberg Political Report.

The general election is just 50 days away. Both sides are gearing up for even more heat exchanges in the coming days.