Lingle told The Hill in October that she'd support any of the Republican candidates in the race except Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

"Unless the Republican candidate was Ron Paul I would be voting for the Republican candidate," she said then. "I don't think anyone would be surprised by that. I like them all."

Lingle has trailed Rep. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoLive coverage: Sanders rolls out single-payer bill Where Dems stand on Sanders's single-payer bill The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Hawaii), the Democratic front-runner, in most polls. But she developed a relatively centrist pedigree during her years as governor and gives Republicans their best shot at winning the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), and the GOP is hopeful a testy primary between Hirono and former Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) will give them an opening in the race.

Democrats have sought to tie Lingle to the national Republican Party in the liberal-leaning state, blasting her for a recent fundraiser she held with Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntTop Senate Dem: We're going forward with understanding we can work with White House on DACA Sunday shows preview: Trump officials gear up for UN assembly Air Force One is Trump’s new boardroom MORE (R-Mo.), the author of a controversial bill that would overturn the Obama administration's requirement that all insurance companies cover the costs of contraception. They likely will try to tie her to whomever emerges as the Republican nominee.