Gov. David Ige has spent $2.33 million so far on his re-election effort, which is somewhat more than U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa spent on the race, but that tells only part of the money story.
Hanabusa, who is challenging Ige in the Aug. 11 Democratic primary, reported spending more than $1.91 million on the campaign thus far, and had almost $110,000 in cash on hand at the close of the last reporting period on
July 27, according to filings submitted Wednesday.
However, Hanabusa’s election push this summer has been vastly enhanced by a flood of advertising purchased by a
super PAC called Be Change Now, which is funded by the
Hawaii Council of Carpenters.
Be Change Now has reported spending about $332,000 on television, radio and mailed advertising supporting Hanabusa, and committed another $333,000 on advertising opposing the re-election of Ige.
The carpenters union strongly supports the Honolulu rail project, and has played a major role in some previous Hawaii elections. The union was a major sponsor of the Pacific Resource Partnership, which funded a controversial advertising campaign in 2012 to prevent former Gov. Ben Cayetano from being elected Honolulu mayor.
Cayetano opposed the rail project, and PRP spent more than $3.6 million that year to defeat him. Cayetano later sued for defamation, and PRP agreed to apologize and donate $125,000 in Cayetano’s name to charity.
Hanabusa got another campaign boost this year from the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, according to the latest campaign spending reports. A political action committee created by the faculty union has so far committed more than $182,000 to advertising in support of Hanabusa.
“Our campaign started fundraising less than a year ago, and we continue to see tremendous response,” Hanabusa said in a written statement. “As the incumbent with three years to fundraise, the governor and his campaign have always had the larger war chest, and they have been outspending us trying to convince voters that a second term will not be like his first. We are confident our message of change is getting out. We know voters will show up for us on Election Day.”
Ige also has benefited from PAC spending during the race, with the super PAC AiKea Unite HERE committing $200,000 to advertising to support him. That political action committee is funded by hospitality and health care workers union Unite Here Local 5, and the Ironworkers Union Local 625 Stabilization Fund.
Another political action committee backed by the United Public Workers union has committed nearly $82,000 to support Ige and two other candidates.
Hanabusa, meanwhile, has received a little extra help from some state lawmakers.
She was endorsed by top leaders in the state House and Senate, and her list of contributors includes more than $28,000 in donations from the campaigns of various lawmakers including Reps. Scott Nishimoto and Ryan Yamane, and Senate President Ron
Kouchi and Senate Vice President Michelle Kidani.
According to the latest state filings Hanabusa also received a boost from executives with NextEra Energy Inc., who so far have donated $40,000 to her campaign.
Ige strongly opposed NextEra’s $4.3 billion bid to purchase Hawaiian Electric Industries, and in 2016 the Public Utilities Commission rejected NextEra’s offer. NextEra was then required to pay HECO $95 million in “break-up” fees and other costs.
“I am sincerely grateful for the overwhelming support from our constituents,” Ige said in a written statement Wednesday. “There is a momentum of support and our campaign is very strong as we continue our work for the benefit of the public interest and our state’s future. My administration has made significant achievements in all areas including education, housing, homeless, economy, the environment, and more and voters realize how far we have come for the betterment of our entire state. We look forward to a victory in the primary and general elections,”
In the crowded race for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Josh Green has far outspent his rivals. Green spent more than $1 million on his campaign so far, and reported he has nearly $82,000 on hand to carry him through the rest of the contest.
Green has also benefited enormously from the backing of Be Change Now, the carpenters’ super PAC. That super PAC has committed more than $471,000 so far in support of Green’s campaign, according to campaign spending filings.
The next biggest spender in the race was state Sen. Jill Tokuda, who spent more than $808,000, and reported she has less than $26,000 on hand.
Also in the lieutenant governor’s race is Kauai Mayor
Bernard Carvalho, who reported he spent more than $363,000 and has nearly $59,000 on hand for the final days of the
State Sen. Will Espero reported spending nearly $91,000 on the race, and had nearly $18,500 on hand as of July 27. Kim Coco Iwamoto, a former member of the state Board of Education, spent nearly $421,000, and had nearly $256,000 on hand on July 27. Iwamoto financed her campaign in large part by lending it $442,000 of her own money.
Wednesday was the deadline for candidates for state and county elected offices to submit financing reports with the state Campaign Spending Commission. There will be one more report due before the Aug. 11 election.