Friday, September 21, 2007


Could Superferry protests sink the myth of Lingle's popularity?

by Larry Geller

Linda Lingle's image as a popular governor may be crumbling in the face of growing Superferry protests. According to press reports, about a thousand people, the majority of whom objected to the way her administration is pushing the boat on them against community wishes and before an Environmental Impact Statement is completed, booed and heckled throughout the meeting.

That's quite a crowd, and for each person who showed up there are likely dozens who are discussing the issue at home, in bars, or at work. Lingle has inserted herself into the controversy, but on the wrong side.

What about her popularity? She has done well in elections, but that could be attributed to the weak opponents the Democrats have run against her (Randy who?).

She has withheld money from badly needed social services and refused to SB20070921release money for pedestrian safety that the Legislature has apportioned. Those things rile advocates, but the Superferry issue has hit a nerve among ordinary citizens. Perhaps it is something like the "last straw."

Should the state move against adolescents or their parents at a future showdown with the big ship, anti-Lingle sentiment can only grow and spread. Perhaps the Coast Guard can clear the water, but Lingle has to clear the air.

She is standing on unfirm ground. Her party is too weak to sustain her. Republicans have been losing elections or defecting from the party (Mike Gabbard). You can count Senate Republicans on the fingers of one hand. Were she truly popular, having coattails would be one indication. Only two senators stuck with her by opposing override votes this past session, the rest voted with the Democrats.

All that is inside page stuff. The Superferry makes page one, and how she handles this issue could shatter her image and her chances for moving from Washington Place to Washington DC next election.

Should Lingle launch the ferry into a sea of protests next week, that could blow the myth of her popularity out of the water and sink her chances at the next election (sorry, sorry).


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