Charles Djou raised $1.4 million in his special-election victory for Congress in May and had more cash in the closing weeks of the campaign to outspend state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case, his main Democratic opponents.
Djou spent $375,469 in the final push for the all-mail vote, federal campaign-finance records for May and early June show, while Hanabusa spent $219,911 and Case spent $248,926.
Djou became the first Hawaii Republican in two decades to capture a seat in Congress after Hanabusa and Case split the Democratic vote. He is serving the remaining months of former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie’s term in urban Honolulu’s 1st Congressional District, which expires in January.
While Djou led in overall fundraising, Hanabusa was close at $1.2 million despite having to compete with Case for Democratic donors. Case raised $847,436 but dropped out of the September primary to replace Abercrombie and endorsed Hanabusa after his third-place finish.
Djou and Hanabusa have to restock their campaigns in preparation for their expected rematch in the November general election. Djou’s campaign had $216,485 in cash on hand through mid-June, while Hanabusa had $144,497.
Djou and Hanabusa will likely try to raise an additional $1 million each for the general election. During the special election the candidates were successful at tapping money from political action committees aligned with other lawmakers and interest groups from business and labor.
Hanabusa, who had fundraising help from U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, collected $316,000 from political action committees, while Djou raised $212,120. Case raised just $18,700 from PACs.
Djou’s presence in Washington, D.C., and some of the cache he earned by winning in President Barack Obama’s hometown district, might help him with fundraising among mainland Republicans and independents who otherwise might not invest in the islands.
"There are a lot of people who want to see us re-elected, locally and nationally," said Dylan Nonaka, Djou’s campaign manager. "So that should be helpful."
Hanabusa may be able to attract financial help from mainland Democrats who see an opportunity to quickly take back the traditionally Democratic district and help preserve the party’s House majority.
At home, Hanabusa has the challenge of raising a substantial amount of campaign money at the same time Abercrombie and Mayor Mufi Hannemann are appealing to Democratic donors in their primary runs for governor. Several other prominent Democrats are running for lieutenant governor and Honolulu mayor, adding to the squeeze on the party’s donor pool.
"We think we’ve had a successful model so far," said Eric Hamakawa, Hanabusa’s campaign manager.
"I think it’s progressing as we planned it out in the very beginning. We don’t think we’ve hit that fatigue mark yet."