Welcome to Ad Watch, an occasional Civil Beat series in which we analyze campaign messages from Hawaii candidates.
Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson is one of two council members running for the 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and one of six candidates in the race. Most are established politicians.
So, how do you set yourself apart from the pack?
Anderson’s first campaign video is a solid introduction to the Windward Oahu resident that emphasizes his deep commitment to his family. The very first thing you’ll see before you press “play” is Anderson, his wife Lisa and their four lovely kids (ages 2-11) on a beach that appears to be in Waimanalo, where he grew up and is part of the district he now represents.
You can’t go wrong playing the ohana card in Hawaii politics.
Have a look:
“Get to Know Ikaika” is narrated and begins with these winning words: “A local boy, adopted by his grandparents he grew up living in Waimanalo surrounded by a loving, extended family.” The spot, posted on YouTube and his campaign website, is less than two minutes long but full of vintage photos of Anderson, 36, as a kid, as a student, as a government staffer and as an elected official.
Politics is in the Anderson family bloodline, as demonstrated by a picture of Anderson’s grandfather, Whitney Anderson, holding a campaign sign and running for re-election to the state House. (Not mentioned, but widely known, is that Anderson’s uncle is another former politician, Andy Anderson.)
Wisely, the spot does not mention that the senior Anderson served as a Republican, given the party’s lack of appeal in the islands. There are photos of the young Anderson standing with prominent Democrats like U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono and Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
Nor does the ad explain that Waimanalo is located in the 2nd Congressional District and not the First. Hawaii law does not prohibit candidates from one congressional district representing the other, and several of our representatives have fit that bill, including Hirono.
Another appeal: Anderson is a Kamehameha Schools graduate, making him apparently the only Native Hawaiian running in CD1. Congress has not had a Hawaiian member since the 2012 retirement of the beloved Dan Akaka.
Anderson also went to the University of Hawaii where he double-majored in political science and journalism. That impressive fact may force political junkies to consider him in a new light.
There’s more talk of family as the narrator, speaking over a soundtrack that would not be out of place on the Oprah Winfrey Network, intones: “Nobody needs to tell Ikaika about the challenges of raising a family in Hawaii.”
In the video, two men vouch for Anderson’s credentials — John Scelsa, a small business owner, and T.C. Yim, a former state senator and World War II veteran. Both men essentially represent two groups whose votes Anderson will need.
The narrator explains that Anderson spent 15 years as an aide or assistant in the Legislature and Honolulu Hale. When he got elected in his own right, the ad explains, he was behind some of the big issues the city faced, such as hauling sewage sludge, banning smoking at parks and beaches, and tackling spending on rail. That’s when Anderson finally speaks on his own to the camera, telling the viewer, “I’ve never been afraid of the tough issues. …”
All in all, a good introduction to Ikaika Anderson. What he will need to do in future spots, one thinks, is talk to voters more directly and tell us what he plans to do for Hawaii in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Contact Chad Blair via email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @chadblairCB.
DISCUSSION: What do you think of Ikaika Anderson’s first campaign ad? Will it appeal to voters? Share your manao.*