Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle says Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins is her “role model,” and Lingle wants voters to know she’d look to Collins’ example if she’s elected to replace Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka, who is retiring.
Not surprisingly, Akaka dismisses Lingle’s claims that she’s politically moderate as “part of the strategy” to get elected in a blue state. But he, too, has nice things to say about Collins. She and Akaka serve together on the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
“Sen. Collins has been — well, let me say pretty open-minded,” Akaka told DC808 in an interview Thursday evening. “Because she has looked at the issues in committee — as you know she’s our ranking member in Homeland Security — and she’s been very helpful with the issues, taking different positions from her party several times.”
Akaka added the caveat that Collins “tries to do as much as she can with her side,” including working to help Republicans regain a majority in the U.S. Senate. Akaka said he is surprised that Collins traveled “so far west” to support a Hawaii candidate, but he acknowledged that one of Lingle’s strengths is her ability to connect with people.
“She is quite friendly,” Akaka said. “The friendly type. I’m sure she’ll be working hard to try to get elected.”
If Lingle wins the Republican primary as expected, she’ll face either Rep. Mazie Hirono or former Congressman Ed Case in the general election. Case tried unsuccessfully to take Akaka’s seat in 2006, but Akaka still won’t say who he hopes will replace him.
“I wish not to comment on that,” Akaka said. “I think you know that I’m taking a position to be neutral.”