POSTED: 5:52 p.m. HST, May 18, 2012
The nonprofit arm of VoteVets.org, which seeks to elect Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans to Congress, has committed $75,000 for ads in Hawaii supporting Tulsi Gabbard in her bid for the 2nd Congressional District.
The television ad by the VoteVets.org Action Fund portrays Gabbard as "fresh leadership" and touts her military background, which includes two tours of duty to the war in Iraq. The buy is for weekdays starting today and running through May 30.
"She's been a real advocate for veterans," Jon Soltz, chairman of VoteVets.org, said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Pittsburgh. "For the long term we're interested in producing leaders that are going to take care of our issues, and our members on the ground are very supportive of Tulsi."
The ads are classified as an independent expenditure, which are not coordinated with a campaign, but can focus on issues that benefit a candidate.
"I'm especially honored to have the support from veterans because they know me best," Gabbard, a captain in the Army National Guard, said in a statement. "They know that because of my experience in deploying twice to the Middle East, and working with Sen. (Daniel) Akaka on veterans issues in Washington, that I will fight for all veterans, fight for our troops, and will work hard to bring our troops home from Afghanistan now, and instead focus on rebuilding Hawaii and our country."
Gabbard is in the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District representing rural Oahu and the neighbor islands. Others in the primary include former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, former Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chief Advocate Esther Kiaaina, Hilo attorney Bob Marx and Honolulu attorney Rafael Del Castillo. The Republican primary field includes small-business consultant Matthew DiGeronimo.
"Our opponents must run their campaigns as they see fit; we will run our campaign as we see fit," Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, Hannemann's deputy campaign manager, said in a statement.
Hannemann leads in overall fundraising, with $789,000 raised for the election cycle and $631,00 in cash on hand as of March 31, according to Federal Elections Commission filings. Gabbard has raised $571,000 and has $465,000 on hand.
"The bottom line is we have a young, dynamic, fresh leader who served two terms in Iraq running against a career politician," Soltz said. "The $75,000 is just an initial down payment on what we think we need to do to really raise her name ID and ensure that this is a two-person race."
Gabbard, a former state representative who is in her first term on the Honolulu City Council, was deployed to Iraq in 2004 and to Kuwait in 2008.
Founded in 2006, VoteVets.org has raised more than $30 million to push veterans' issues and back congressional campaigns of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.