WASHINGTON — Former Honolulu Mayor and Democratic congressional hopeful Mufi Hannemann pulled in $294,745 in the three-month fundraising period that ended Sept. 30, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Hannemann didn’t formally announce his candidacy in the 2nd congressional district until Aug. 30., one month before the end of the quarter. He was widely expected to return to politics after his loss in the 2010 gubernatorial primary. He has served as president of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association since December 2010.

A strong start for Hannemann shows the challenge for his Democratic opponent Tulsi Gabbard, 30, a Honolulu City Council member who will likely have to paint Hannemann as a business-as-usual establishment candidate in order to seriously challenge him. Gabbard and Hannemann both want to succeed Rep. Mazie Hirono, who is vacating her congressional seat to run for the U.S. Senate seat that Sen. Daniel Akaka is leaving when he retires next year.

Gabbard took in $125,474 last quarter, 43 percent of what Hannemann received. Gabbard’s intake included $14,858 that she donated to herself, and brings her year-to-date total to $145,605. She reported spending $11,960 between July and September, and closed out the quarter with $130,482 cash on-hand.

Hannemann, 57, loaned himself $12,000 to break the $300,000 mark last quarter. Of the total he raised, $275,245 came from individual donors and $19,500 came from political action committees. Hannemann reported spending $10,009 and having $296,737 in cash on-hand at the end of the quarter.

Gabbard has been in the race for months longer than Hannemann — she announced she would run for Congress in late May — but she lacks the former mayor’s name-recognition in Hawaii.

Hannemann’s strong political connections are likely part of what enabled him to bring in $19,500 from special interest groups. Gabbard pulled in a single $1,000 PAC donation from the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting, a Virginia-based insurance advocate PAC that has supported both Democrats and Republicans.

Hannemann drew support from a longer list of PACs, including some of Hawaii’s heavyweights and groups like the Washington, D.C.- based Searchlight Leadership Fund, which gives to Democrats in several states.

PACs That Donated to Hannemann Last Quarter Total Amount
Alexander & Baldwin PAC $2,500
American Hotel and Lodging Association $2,500
First Hawaiian Bank Citizenship Committee $1,000
Hawaiian Airlines PAC $1,000
IUPAC Painters Union PAC $5,000
Matson Federal Election Committee $2,500
Searchlight Leadership Fund $5,000
Combined Total $19,500

Despite Hannemann’s financial advantage, there are still many months of campaigning ahead of the August 2012 Democratic primary. So far, there is no Republican vying for the seat but there’s still talk of other Democrats entering the race.

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