Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann maintained his edge in campaign fundraising over former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie during the past six months and has substantially more campaign money available for the drive toward the Democratic primary for governor in September.
Hannemann has raised more than $3.1 million overall, including $827,640 during the past six months, according to state campaign-finance reports. Abercrombie has collected $2 million, with $711,655 over the past six months.
But Hannemann had $2 million in cash available at the end of June, compared with $468,942 for Abercrombie. The cash advantage means Hannemann can outspend Abercrombie on campaign advertisements during the critical final weeks before the primary when voters will likely be paying the most attention.
John Hart, a communication professor at Hawaii Pacific University, said Hannemann would have the advantage in media buys. But he said that might be partially offset in this campaign since both Democrats are well known and will likely get a lot of free exposure through the news media.
"Not to say that it’s unimportant, but I think it might be of lesser importance than in other races and in other circumstances," he said.
Hart said, however, that Hannemann’s cash advantage could make a difference at the end if the campaign is extremely close and the former mayor has the ability to saturate the airwaves.
Abercrombie formally announced his campaign last year, and his operation has had to finance more fixed costs. Hannemann has been raising campaign money and doing grass-roots outreach for a year, but he only made his campaign official in late May.
"For more than a year, our headquarters in Honolulu has been fully operational, and since then we have opened four additional headquarters on the neighbor islands," Bill Kaneko, Abercrombie’s campaign manager, said in a statement. "We have full-time paid campaign staff and a strong grass-roots operation. Because we have made significant early investments in our campaign infrastructure, we are operating at full capacity and well positioned as we move into the final phase of the campaign."
Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, the leading Republican candidate for governor, has raised $2.6 million overall and $374,130 in the past six months. Aiona had $718,991 in cash at the end of June.
Hannemann had raised more than $1 million in each of the past two six-month reporting periods, an impressive marker since he was not an official candidate. He also benefited from a state law that allows the transfer of money between state campaigns, moving $672,000 he had brought in as mayor to help with his run for governor. Abercrombie was unable to transfer money he had raised from his campaigns for Congress.
The pace of Hannemann’s and Abercrombie’s fundraising slipped during the past six months as competition for donors and the economic downturn made raising money more difficult.
Campaign advisers say privately that the competition for donors has become greater, with other prominent Democrats raising money, such as state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, who is preparing for a likely rematch against U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, R-Hawaii, for Congress in November, and U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who is running for his ninth six-year term.
"Across the state, momentum is growing each day — thousands of people are attending our grass-roots rallies and events, and endorsements continue to come our way," Dean Okimoto, Hannemann’s campaign chairman, said in a statement. "These campaign contributions make it possible for us to share Mufi’s message and to demonstrate his proven record of making Hawaii the best place for all of us to live, work and raise our families through his executive experience and his collaborative leadership skills."
Kaneko said Hannemann’s fundraising advantage shows he is the candidate of the status quo. "This campaign has always been about bringing in people new to the political process, first-time donors, and those wanting to change the status quo," he said. "Voters have a clear choice in September: The campaign funded by wealthy interests that want to keep Hawaii the way it is, or our grass-roots campaign of people who want real change."
Aiona, in a statement, said the election will be won on the grass-roots level. "I am the only candidate who will create jobs and keep down the financial burden on our working families and small businesses, reform our public education system and move Hawaii toward a clean-energy future. We are so thankful for every donation we receive, which we treat as an investment in a brighter future," he said.
In the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Norman Sakamoto has raised the most campaign money overall and during the past six months. Sakamoto has raised $540,151 in total — including nearly $200,000 he transferred from his Senate account — and brought in $248,314 over the past six months.
Sakamoto has invested in early television ads to distinguish himself in a crowded field. But the early spending left him with $152,314 in cash at the end of June.
"The early polls showed that more than half of the voters had no choice, so we needed to get the message out there," he said of his decision to launch television ads earlier than the other candidates.
Brian Schatz, a former Democratic Party of Hawaii chairman and state lawmaker, collected $467,135 in total and $176,321 in the past six months. But he had $357,359 in cash at the end of June, which might put him in a stronger position to close out the campaign.
"I think the measure of the strength of your campaign at this point is how much in the way of resources you have to compete in the stretch," he said. "And we’re feeling like we’re in a good position to get our message out over the next 45 days."
On the Republican side for lieutenant governor, state House Minority Leader Lynn Finnegan raised $99,472 overall and $50,863 in the past six months. Adrienne King, an attorney and GOP activist, raised $42,183 in total and $24,656 in the past six months.
(For the reports, go to: https://nc.csc.hawaii.gov/CFSPublic/ReportList.php
State campaign-finance reports for January through June were released yesterday. Here is how the major candidates for lieutenant governor fared:.
* Includes $18,050 in personal loans
Source: State Campaign Spending Commission