Although he endorsed Congresswoman Mazie Hirono in her ultimately successful bid for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Daniel Akaka, Republican Congressman Don Young of Alaska is now backing former Gov. Linda Lingle, according to a letter released by the Lingle campaign.
Young's letter addressed to "Dear Friends" and dated Wednesday says that "this November, with the future of the nation at stake and the balance of the United States Senate up in the air, Hawaii's Senate seat could not be more important.
"That's why I'm supporting Governor Linda Lingle," he says. "Governor Lingle has a proven track record of working across the aisle to solve problems and working with members of both parties to improve the lives of all the people of Hawaii."
Young's message about the need for a bipartisan U.S. senator for Hawaii echoes what he said in July, when he appeared side by side with Hirono in a television ad endorsing her in her primary race against former Congressman Ed Case.
In that ad, titled "Opposites Attract," Young touted his GOP credentials and said of Hirono: "While Mazie and I don't see eye to eye on everything, we've done something too many people in Washington refuse to cross the aisle and do: We've worked together.
"If you're looking for a United States senator who doesn't just talk about bipartisanship but actually knows how to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done, Mazie Hirono is that senator."
In his current letter, Young says that the states of Hawaii and Alaska have a kinship as the only noncontiguous states in the union.
"Alaska and Hawaii are connected through a unique set of issues facing each state," he says. "Energy is on the minds of both Alaskans and Hawaiians. (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid and his cohorts continue to stand in the way of responsible development of Alaska's resources."
He says Senate Democrats have "said no every step of the way" to the development of Alaska's resources, which "could be a tremendous relief for Hawaii's energy needs."
"Linda Lingle and I both agree it's time to fill Alaska's pipeline and help this country on a path toward energy independence," Young says in his letter.
"I am proud to support Governor Lingle and look forward to working with her in the coming years on issues facing Alaska and Hawaii," he concludes.
In July, Young came under fire from the Lingle campaign and members of his own party for endorsing Hirono.
At the time, Lingle campaign manager Bob Lee released a statement defending the former governor's record of bipartisanship and attacking the Hirono campaign for getting an endorsement from Young.
"It should be troubling to the people of Hawaii that Mazie Hirono's first attempt to convey any example of bipartisanship is a video advertisement with one of the House of Representative's most controversial members, who even Mazie's fellow Democrats have criticized on a range of ethics and spending issues. This is not the leadership Hawaii needs."
There was no immediate comment Sunday from the Lingle campaign on Young's decision to endorse her in the Nov. 6 general election, although her campaign did release Young's letter last week.
Young caught flak for his summer endorsement of Hirono from members of his party, being called a RINO (Republican in name only), by the "Red State" website.
That website suggested another candidate should challenge Young for the Republican nomination in 2014. "Don Young needs to be fired!" it said.
"For Young (a member of the House) to endorse and do an ad for someone from a different state and for a Senate race . . . especially when Governor Linda Lingle has a good chance of winning . . . is just plain disgusting. Some RINOs in Washington, D.C., are just getting too comfortable that they are endorsing Democrats now," the conservative website said.
Lenny Klompus, Lingle's deputy campaign manager, said that Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski will be in Hawaii today to announce Young's endorsement of Lingle. Murkowski is also expected to endorse Lingle.
The Hirono campaign did not have an immediate comment Sunday afternoon.
* Brian Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.