Hawaii labor unions have spent more than $200,000 on television advertising on behalf of former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, the Democratic candidate for governor, including a new spot featuring former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who lost to Abercrombie in the primary.
The Hannemann ad is intended to woo voters loyal to the former mayor with the message that Democrats are better on issues such as the economy, education and the environment. The Hawaii Poll found that Hannemann voters are breaking toward Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, the Republican.
"We are facing our most important election since statehood because so many of the things that we cherish most about Hawaii — nurtured by generations of Democrats like you and me and inspired by every Democratic governor since John Burns — needs our kokua more than ever before," Hannemann says in the ad. "That’s why I’m urging you to vote for Neil Abercrombie and Brian Schatz. They’ll work hard to improve our economy, education system and the environment."
Hannemann and Aiona share many of the same views on social and fiscal policy and have a personal history.
"Mufi and I, like I said, we had a relationship prior to this campaign," Aiona told reporters Monday. "That will never change. It would have been tough, if it was a Hannemann-Aiona campaign, but we would have gotten through it. Just like when we got through it in life when we competed against each other on the football field or basketball court.
"And so I think I know where Mufi’s heart is, and it’s fine with me. We can move on."
The coalition of unions — which includes the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the United Public Workers, the Hawaii Carpenters Union and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union — pooled resources for three independent ads on behalf of Abercrombie.
The first two, which aired earlier this month, were critical of Aiona and countered the "Rise and Shine" theme used by the Republican Governors Association for Aiona. The third ad features Hannemann.
The $200,000 figure is based on state campaign finance reports and estimates from one of the unions involved. The union spending, combined with $224,000 in ads sponsored by the Democratic Governors Association, has helped Abercrombie offset the impact of the RGA’s advertising for Aiona.
The RGA has spent more than $1 million on ads in Hawaii since August.