What a difference a year makes.

The Hawaii Republican Party is $66,000 in debt but has about $71,000 cash on hand, according to the party’s most recent FEC report covering the month of July.

The party may not have a lot to spend, but that’s almost four times as much as it had on hand last year, when Civil Beat reported that the party was nearly $67,000 in the red.

In December 2011, the party reported that its debt had increased to almost $110,000.

“There’s still a long way to go,” said David Chang, chair of the Hawaii Republican Party. “We have a lot of work that we want to do but we’re on the right track.”

Chang credited “good leadership across the board” for the improvement in party finances.

Indeed, after a disappointing 2010 elections, Hawaii Republicans cleaned house.

Former party chair Jonah Kaauwai resigned on Sept. 26, 2011, following widespread criticism of his financial management of the party. Chang was elected as Kaauwai’s replacement in Nov. 2011.

According to its most recent FEC report, the party owes $21,000 to Arena Communications, a Utah-based company that provides direct mail services for Republicans.

The party also owes almost $18,000 to Unisource Direct, which also specializes in direct mail fundraising services for conservatives and nonprofits.

Unlike last year, the party does not have any credit card debt.

Chang said that Republican candidates are aware of the party’s limited financial resources. The party has been offering candidates alternate resources instead, such as training and phone banking. He was optimistic that the party’s poor fiscal situation won’t have much effect on the November general election.

“I don’t think the party’s financial situation will have a very large impact at all on whether the candidates win,” Chang said. “Ultimately what will determine whether a candidate wins is how hard the candidate works.”

Truth be told, Republican U.S. senate candidate Linda Lingle doesn’t need the party’s help. She’s amassed more than $4.2 million in contributions this election cycle. But other candidates may be affected.

There’s Charles Djou, who is running for the 1st Congressional District seat against incumbent Colleen Hanabusa. Djou has raised less than half as much as Hanabusa this election cycle. As of June 30, he had not received any financial support from national Republicans.

Djou did not respond to Civil Beat’s calls requesting an interview for this story.

Dems Report Almost No Debt

Things are much brighter for the Democratic Party of Hawaii. According to its most recent FEC report covering the period of April 1 to June 30, 2012, the party had $184,369 cash on hand. It owes just $4,000 to the Democratic National Commitee.

This is a huge turnaround from last October, when Civil Beat reported that the Hawaii Democratic party was $74,000 in debt.

Debi Hartmann, executive director of the party, said that the improvement can be attributed to fundraising at different levels.

“We have been working diligently to increase our finances to have grassroots support,” Hartmann said. “We’ve been getting support from our state electeds (sic) and we’ve been getting support from our congressionals, so there has been support from all levels from grassroots on up.”

Like Chang, Hartmann discounted the influence of money on the November elections.

“I think that Democrats do well more because of their content than their finances,” she said. “I think that they’ve been on the right side of the issues.”

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