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GOP ad campaign backs Aiona

By Derrick DePledge

LAST UPDATED: 2:11 a.m. HST, Sep 29, 2010

The Republican Governors Association has spent more than $768,000 since August on advertising on behalf of Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a substantial investment that has helped the lieutenant governor reach out to voters in the governor's race.

The RGA's advertising has reinforced Aiona's message on alternative energy and public education and his background as a judge. Yesterday the RGA released its first television ad criticizing former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, Aiona's Democratic opponent, for voting for tax increases and the federal stimulus package while in Congress.

Chris Schrimpf, an RGA spokesman, would not disclose how much the RGA intends to spend in Hawaii. "We think Duke Aiona has a good record to run on," he said in a statement. "Duke Aiona will help the state create jobs, oppose tax increases and he has a plan that can transform education in the state."

The RGA ads are known as electioneering communications and are not coordinated with the Aiona campaign.

Aiona, who has raised $2.8 million, had $487,173 in cash on hand at the start of September. While Aiona was in a better position than Abercrombie, it was not the financial advantage many Republicans had anticipated given that Aiona did not have a difficult primary. Abercrombie has raised more than $3 million and had $275,030 in cash at the start of September, but his campaign was spending heavily in the primary and carrying debts.

Bill Kaneko, Abercrombie's campaign manager, sent out a fundraising appeal to Democrats this week that cited the spending by national Republicans on the campaign.

"If anyone thinks this general election for Neil and Brian is going to be easy, think again," he said of Abercrombie and his lieutenant governor running mate, Brian Schatz. "Mainland Republican interests have already begun spending millions in advertising to try to influence Hawaii voters. We're going to run the general just like we did the primary: at the grass-roots level, person to person, one vote at a time."

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