Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (R) raised nearly $1.8 million in her first-quarter fundraising for the Senate, a huge haul that shows why Republicans were so hopeful she'd run for the seat.

Lingle nearly tripled the solid $624,000 front-runner Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) raised. Hirono has more than $1 million cash on hand.

Hawaii is a solidly Democratic state but Lingle has shown she can win there, and while Hirono is the favorite for the Democratic nod she still has to get past former Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) in the primary.

Lingle has long been a fundraising powerhouse: she raised and spent $5.8 million in her 2006 reelection campaign, setting a state record. There hasn't been any recent polling in the state, but one conducted by the Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling in October had Hirono up six points on Lingle.

The former Hawaii governor has said she plans to raise between $8 million and $10 million for the race.