Out-of-state money is playing a big part in Hawaii politics.
The latest big spender is the Republican Governors Association, which according to a tally prepared by Star-Advertiser reporter Derrick DePledge, has dumped $768,000 in advertising to help Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona’s campaign for governor.
The RGA is just what you think it is, a political arm of the GOP for governors. We have a Republican governor, so there is a connection and all, but it isn’t the sort of operation one considers when looking at the local GOP.
According to OpenSecrets.org, one of the RGA’s biggest contributions is $1 million from Rupert Murdoch via the News Corp. The Republican National Committee also gave $1.5 million. Another $2.5 million was given by Perry Homes, owned by Bob Perry, the Texas home builder who funded the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and other campaign organizations that targeted negative ads in past elections.
So far the Democratic Governors Association has not been playing in Hawaiian waters.
The RGA’s contribution has been a series of "Rise and Shine" television ads. They are something of the natural successor to former President Ronald Reagan’s "It’s morning again in America," from 1984.
Political observers credit the Reagan ads as some of the most effective ever. The Aiona ads, and accompanying Internet sites, are equally positive. Personally, I thought Aiona’s ads were a tad closer to Billy Graham than Ronald Reagan, but still clean and effective.
Then this week the RGA started to grow talons. The new ads use Abercrombie’s own TV commercials, thank Abercrombie for his service and set him up for a fast right cross, saying Abercrombie voted for higher taxes and questioning if now is the time for another spendthrift Democrat.
It was negative in the sense that it was mostly about how voters should not select Abercrombie, but nothing close to what Democratic voters experienced during last month’s primary election.
Two years ago, just $500,000 in mainland union money dumped in the Hawaii election against a ballot issue calling for a constitutional convention scared off local voters. It doesn’t take much to tip an election, especially if you are playing with millions.
Hawaii has a tiny voter pool compared to mainland political campaigns — so when the big boys start doing cannon balls in our waters, everyone will feel the splash.