Ben Cayetano didn’t shoot the works.
The Honolulu mayoral candidate had said he planned to spend almost his entire bank account before the Aug. 11 primary. It was part of his attempt to capture more than 50 percent of the vote and avoid a Nov. 6 runoff.
He didn’t spend the money and he didn’t win the election outright. He did come close, however, when it came to the spending.
According to the most recent campaign finance reports, the former governor raised nearly $1 million between Jan. 1 and Aug. 11. He spent about $900,000.
The reports also show Cayetano had just over $108,000 left in his bank account the day of the primary, which is more than four times that of his general election opponent, Kirk Caldwell.
While this might seem like a good start for the lead up to the general election, it’s hard to be certain.
Caldwell’s campaign finance reports show that he’s begun to catch up to Cayetano in the fundraising department.
During the election cycle, Caldwell had a total haul of about $943,000. This includes a $50,000 loan Caldwell gave himself in July. He’s spent about $925,000.
But in the two weeks leading up to the election, Caldwell pulled in $68,000 in contributions compared to Cayetano’s $45,000.
Caldwell’s campaign touted this $68,000 in the headline of its Friday press release about the newly released finance reports.
“We did very well in the primary election and I extend a huge mahalo to our supporters,” Caldwell said in the release. “We are receiving overwhelming support from our constituency and we are working hard to earn the votes for our victory in the general election.”
It appears that Caldwell once again is receiving support from the pro-rail business community, as many of his donations seem to come from attorneys, contractors, architects and individuals whose companies have contracts with the city for the contentious $5.26 billion project.
He has also filed to host another fundraiser Sept. 4 that asks for contributions of $500 per person.
Cayetano, on the other hand, seems to be changing his fundraising tactics. He’s tapped out many of his big donors — those who give the maximum $4,000 contribution — and is now relying on smaller donations.
His most recent report from the two weeks leading up the election show Cayetano only received two $4,000 contributions. One other person reached the $4,000 limit. This is a far cry from the 112 individuals or groups who gave Cayetano $4,000 in the first six months of the year.
This isn’t a surprise to Cayetano. In fact, before the primary he told Civil Beat he’d have to get rely more heavily on small donations, such as those that are less than $100.
“Going into the general … my people are maxed out and I’m going to have to find new support,” he said.
Of the $45,000 Cayetano received from July 28 to Aug. 11, about $4,200 came from donations of less than $100. Caldwell reported bringing in just over $2,200 at that level.
It’s unclear whether these trends will hold as the general election nears. So far, Cayetano and Caldwell have been relatively quiet on the campaign trail. Most of the political noise has come from the Cayetano camp, and has involved recent developments over rail.
The Pacific Resource Partnership has also been silent. PRP spent more than $1.3 million on advertising largely used to attack Cayetano prior to the primary.
Executive Director John White told Civil Beat recently he hasn’t decided how PRP will proceed heading into the general election. He said he doesn’t know if PRP will continue with negative ads and campaign tactics will depend on how he thinks voters will respond to various messaging. This includes expanding beyond rail.
“It’s a different race,” White said. “You’re going to have 90,000 new voters. Rail is not the only issue … (and) at the end of the day you have to take your cues from voters,” White said. “