Alaska Republican says he now backs Lingle

Alaska Republican says he now backs Lingle
Don Young of Alaska and Linda Lingle of Hawaii
Don Young of Alaska and Linda Lingle of Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Republican Congressman Don Young of Alaska said he backed Democrat Mazie Hirono in July, it generated a lot of national buzz.

The "across the aisle" endorsement also attracted a lot of criticism from Young's fellow Republicans.

Now, Young says he's backing Hirono's Republican opponent Linda Lingle in the November election.

Young says he's supporting Lingle for the same reasons he endorsed Hirono in the Democratic Primary: That Lingle has a proven track record of working with Democrats and Republicans alike.

Political analysts say the reversal is definitely meant to be a knock against the Hirono campaign -- but should come as no surprise.

"This isn't a flip-flop. This is business. It's a Republican backing a Republican," said retired University of Hawaii Political Science Professor Neal Milner.

"When the chips are down, this is the endorsement you'd expect him to make."

The Hirono campaign says Young's endorsement for Lingle has nothing to do with bipartisanship since it's an endorsement of a Republican candidate coming from another Republican.

Hirono officials, meanwhile, are attempting to stress Lingle's connections to Mainland Republicans.

The campaign today released a new ad that attempts to show that Lingle's
policies mirror those of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

The Hawaii Senate race is one of the most closely watched in the nation. Republicans need just four seats to win control of the Senate and many Mainland Republican donors have contributed heavily to Lingle's campaign.

The Lingle campaign still has the larger war chest, raising over $5.2 million.

But Hirono is catching up. Her campaign says it has raised over $1.4 million between July 23 and Sept. 30

By contrast, the Lingle camp received about $822,000 during the same period.

"I think under the circumstance, I think that suggests a momentum shift in the Mazie Hirono camp," Milner said.

With less than a month before the general election, both sides are expected to step up their fundraising efforts -- and compete for much-sought after political endorsements.

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