Hawaii Politics: A Whole New Game

Brickwood Galuteria
Brickwood Galuteria
Jerry Burris
Jerry Burris
Sam Aiona
Sam Aiona
(KHNL) From the halls of Congress to the Governor's office - there's a lot at stake during this year's elections.
KHNL News 8's  Chief Political Reporter Darren Pai breaks-down how Hawaii's major political parties are gearing-up for decision 2006.
In the game of politics Hawaii's Democrats controlled the board - securing victory after victory.
But by winning the governor's office Republican Linda Lingle changed the way the game is played.
"The Democratic party was prepared to recalibrate itself. To refocus, to reform itself. It happened the day after we lost the fifth floor at the Capitol" said Brickwood Galuteria, Chairman of the Hawaii Democratic Party.
Now Democrats say they're serious about voter databases and political strategy.
"The party itself went from a virtual volunteer effort back in 2004 to a fully staffed professional political organization."
Ed Case's challenge to Senator Dan Akaka shook up the board. Other Democrats rushed to enter the race for Case's seat in Congress.
"The pieces are scattered...there's so many people running for Congress that clearly party discipline isn't at work here," said Jerry Burris of the Honolulu Advertiser.
"It's galvanizing the party base. Which means more people will come to vote. And when more people come to vote, historically Democrats win," said Galuteria.  
But Republicans feel like celebrating these days.
"We've a great candidate at the top of ticket, congressional races just opened up. So I think we've organized, or put ourselves in a position that we're going to be a contender this year," said Republican Party Chairman Sam Aiona.
A recent party function showcased the GOP's advantage: fundraising. Governor Lingle hopes to raise six million dollars to fund her campaign.
"Our fundraising efforts are going well and I think that's because people see we really need a two party system in Hawaii and they're willing to invest monies to see that happen."
But despite Lingle's presence, Republicans lost seats in the State House.
"She is not representative of a broad groundswell of support for the Republican Party, Republican thinking, she's Linda Lingle," said Burris.
"I think people today, the voters today are a lot more akamai in their voting. And because of that the Republicans today have the best chance we've had in years," said Aiona.
Both parties keep planning their moves. In 2006, politics is a brand new game.
Democrats say they plan to make an issue about the Republican's close ties to the national Republican Party and the White House. Republicans say they plan to focus on their own candidates and not worry too much about their opponents.