I was not aware Linda Lingle, the governor of Hawaii, was a Jewish woman; were you? She is the first Republican to govern Hawaii in 40 years.


Lingle’s religion was never an issue during her campaign, and it seldom garners any attention now. At her inauguration, a rabbi gave an invocation, but so did a number of Christian leaders.

Fewer than 20 Jews have been elected their state’s chief executive since David Emanuel won Georgia ‘s race in 1801.

She narrowly lost a gubernatorial bid in 1998, but when she ran again four years later, backed by the biggest campaign fund in state history, Lingle emerged a winner.

Even the Jerusalem Post featured her in a story.

“I think she sets the example for so many groups that are underrepresented,” said Laura Stein, a lawyer who supported Lingle’s candidacy. But even Jews who find themselves at odds with the governor’s political views, say they take some pride in Lingle’s rise.

“It demonstrates that Hawaii will continue its tradition of tolerance and inclusiveness,” said Democratic state Rep. Brian Schatz. “For that, I think we all were proud.”

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