Editor’s Note: It’s an election year and that means lots of political commercials. Ad Watch is an occasional Civil Beat series in which we help you understand what you’re seeing and hearing when it comes to campaign messages from Hawaii candidates.

Hawaii television viewers have no doubt noticed the uptick in campaign commercials as the Aug. 9 primary election nears.

In this installment of Ad Watch, we tackle two new spots from Gov. Neil Abercrombie and one each from Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui and state Sen. Clayton Hee, who is challenging Tsutsui.

Hee LG TV ad

Screen shot of a Clayton Hee ad for his lieutenant governor campaign, June 26, 2014.

Clayton Hee for Lieutenant Governor

All three candidates are Democrats.

We begin with Hee, who earns kudos for the most visually attractive ad of the campaign season so far.

Gorgeous sunsets. Shining cityscapes. Lush aina. The scenes could pass for a travelogue.

Watch the ad here:

The ad reminds viewers of three legislative accomplishments for which Hee deserves credit: increasing the minimum wage, preserving Turtle Bay land and saving employers big bucks on unemployment insurance.

“This first TV commercial my campaign is running is a message to all voters that I can get the job done!” Hee said in a statement when the ad was released last week.

Smart move on Hee’s part — running on his record.

His opponent Tsutsui, who has already run a couple of ads, takes a humorous approach in his latest: making fun of pronouncing his name.

Watch the ad here:

It’s pretty funny, and voters like funny. It’s self-deprecating, too, and that can be an appealing approach.

The Tsutsui campaign is probably worried that its candidate has low name recognition. This ad will help.

Finally, the Abercrombie campaign is once again emphasizing what it believes to be the governor’s greatest political asset: a growing economy under his watch.

Watch the first ad here:

“Someone had to step up,” the governor says in the spot. “Everyone sacrificed, and not everyone walked away happy. But now we’re in the black. We’re growing again.”

Abercrombie’s other ad makes it personal by featuring a blue-collar worker who had worried about losing his job — until the governor arrived on the scene to save the day.

Watch the second ad here:

Whether they have anything to do with it or not, incumbent executives are often judged by voters based on the health of the economy.

It’s understandable, then, that Abercrombie will keep hitting this message until election day.

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