Candidates in Hawaii’s races for governor and Congress spent a combined $17 million to buy votes through the Nov. 2 general election.

The most expensive contest — in money spent per votes — was the 1st Congressional District runoff between Democrat Colleen Hanabusa and Republican Charles Djou.

And while bigger spending translated into more votes for the winning Democratic candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and Hawaii’s congressional seats, that wasn’t the case at the city level. Honolulu City Council candidate Rich Turbin spent twice as much per vote than Stanley Chang, but lost 48-43 percent.

Here’s a look at how much the candidates spent for each vote received:

Governor, Lieutenant Governor

The winning Democratic ticket of Neil Abercrombie and Brian Schatz together spent $4,679,544 on their campaigns through Oct. 18, the end of the latest reporting period. A final report on spending and donations for the entire general election is due Dec. 2.

Abercrombie and Schatz beat out the Republican ticket of James “Duke” Aiona and Lynn Finnegan 58-41 percent. The Democrats won the election with 222,510 votes, spending an average of $21.03 per vote.

(Unlike the primary election, where Abercrombie and Schatz received separate votes, general election votes were tallied for the ticket as a whole. For the primary, Abercrombie spent an average of $21.86 for each of his 136,321 votes and Schatz spent spent an average of $7.61 for each of his 79,635 votes.)

Meanwhile, Aiona and Finnegan spent a combined $3,352,852 on their campaigns through Oct. 18. The Republican ticket got 157,098 votes, meaning they spent an average $21.34 per vote.

(In the primary, Aiona spent an average of $56.38 for each of his 40,798 votes, while Finnegan spent an average of $5.63 for each of the 26,034 votes received.)

Three of the four candidates representing the Free Energy and Nonpartisan parties in the general election did not report any expenses with the state Campaign Spending Commission.

Thomas Pollard, the nonpartisan candidate for governor, had spent just $1,726 on his campaign. Pollard and his running mate Leonard Kama got 0.3 percent of votes, meaning they spent an average of just $1.37 for each of the 1,263 votes received.

U.S. Representative, District 1

Democrat Colleen Hanabusa, who beat out Republican Charles Djou 50-44 percent, spent $2,154,536 on her campaign through Oct. 13. A final report covering all expenses up to and including Nov. 22, is due Dec. 2 to the Federal Election Commission.

Hanabusa collected 93,974 votes, meaning she spent an average $22.93 per vote.

The defeated Djou, who had spent $2,051,904 on his campaign, spent an average of $24.87 for each of his 82,513 votes.

U.S. Representative, District 2

Democratic incumbent Mazie Hirono held onto her seat, receiving 68 percent of votes against Republican challenger John Willoughby. Hirono spent $986,778 on her campaign, or an average of just $7.46 for each of her 132,280 votes.

Willoughby, managed to get 24 percent of votes despite spending just $18,759 on his campaign. That means he spent an average 40 cents for each of his 46,400 votes.

Pat Brock, a Libertarian candidate, received 3,254 votes, but has no financial reports filed with the FEC. Andrew Von Sonn, a nonpartisan candidate, also has no expense reports filed. He received 1,310 votes.

U.S. Senate

Democratic incumbent Daniel K. Inouye was easily re-elected to a ninth consecutive term. The senior senator spent $3,814,829 on campaign expenses and received 72 percent of votes. He spent an average of $13.78 for each of his 276,928 votes.

Republican challenger Cam Cavasso spent $238,794 on his campaign and got 21 percent of votes. He spent an average of $3 for each of those 79,830 votes.

Green party candidate Jim Brewer got 7,756 votes, but has not filed any campaign expenses with the FEC. Libertarian candidate Lloyd Mallan got 2,953 votes, and nonpartisan candidate Jeff Jarrett got 2,695 votes. Neither candidate has reported expenditures.

Honolulu City Council

The face-off between Stanley Chang and Rich Turbin for a seat on the Honolulu City Council was a big money race. But more money did not translate into more votes.

Chang, who won with 48 percent of votes, spent $201,827 on his campaign. He spent an average $10.67 for each of his 18,921 votes. Turbin spent more — $363,518 total, or an average of $21.63 for each of his 16,805 votes.

DISCUSSION: *What do you think about how much candidates spent in return for the number of votes received? Join the conversation on Hawaii politics.

About the Author