GOP Rep. switches endorsement in Hawaii Senate race from Dem to Republican


Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, has changed his mind.

After crossing the aisle to support Rep. Mazie Hirono in her bid to secure the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Hawaii, Young is now publicly backing Hirono's GOP opponent, former Gov. Linda Lingle, arguing that his endorsement of Hirono only pertained to her primary battle.

In a July endorsement video, Young lauded Hirono as someone "who doesn't just talk about bipartisanship but actually knows how to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done."

Young's support prompted a furious reply from the Lingle campaign, which spurned Young as "one of the House of Representative's most controversial members," citing Young's history of "ethics and spending issues" as evidence that his endorsement was nothing for Hirono to celebrate.

But after Young switched his endorsement to Lingle for the general election, praising the former governor in a letter to supporters as a "real bipartisan leader" who will bring "common-sense governance" back to Washington, D.C., Lingle's campaign may be undergoing its own change of heart.

"I'm honored to have the support of Rep. Young," Lingle said in reaction to Young's about-face.

Hirono's campaign was unperturbed by Young's turnabout, explaining it as just another example of Republicans supporting their own and using the incident to question Lingle's bipartisan bona fides: "Republican Linda Lingle should be proud to have the support of national Republicans in their quest to take control of the U.S. Senate - it's impressive that 26 Republican U.S. Senators have publicly backed her. What the people of Hawaii continue to be confused by is how this in any way demonstrates that she would be a bipartisan or independent member in the U.S. Senate."

The political symbiosis between Alaskan and Hawaiian politicians may seem strange to residents of the lower 48, but public figures in both states have long cultivated ties based on shared interests as noncontiguous states.

Lingle and Hirono are running to fill the open seat left by retiring Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka. Public polling currently shows Hirono enjoying a wide lead among Hawaii voters.

  • Jake Miller