The Hill’s 50 races to watch


Hawaii Senate

Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats turn on Al Franken The Hill's 12:30 Report Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (D) vs Linda Lingle (R)

Democrats hope Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) can fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D), who’s retiring after 22 years in the upper chamber — but former GOP Gov. Linda Lingle has different ideas.

Lingle is a rare thing in true-blue Hawaii: a popular Republican who’s also rallied the backing of some heavy-hitting interest groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She also has a solid track record against Hirono, having defeated the Democrat 52 to 47 percent in Hawaii’s 2002 governor’s race to become the first woman to fill that seat in the state’s history — and the first Republican since 1962. 

Still, Lingle has a steep climb, as state polls have shown Hirono consistently ahead, and the Democrats think they have a trump card at the top of the ticket in President Obama, a native son of Hawaii whose 45-point win there in the 2008 race represented his largest margin of victory nationwide.

The Hill rates this race as leaning Democratic.