- Special Projects
Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang is going all in, wagering the bulk of what’s left in his campaign bank account on his bid to represent urban Oahu in Congress.
He poured $303,421 — almost twice as much as any other candidate — into TV ads, radio spots and other efforts to attract voters from April 1 to June 30, according to his most recent quarterly campaign finance report, filed Tuesday with the Federal Elections Commission.
Chang is hoping to close a double-digit gap on Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, long the frontrunner, and state Rep. Mark Takai, who’s been nipping at her heels, before the Aug. 9 Democratic primary.
Chang has polled in the single digits, along with the other four Democratic candidates in the race, but he has held his own when it comes to fundraising.
His spending surge has left him with $172,716 after raising $145,025 during the reporting period.
Takai has far less ground to make up — six points, according to a Civil Beat Poll in May — and is charging hard. He raised more money than any other Democratic candidate, $211,376 to be exact, and outspent Kim this past quarter by $15,000.
Awaiting the primary winner, however, will be Republican Charles Djou, who amassed quite the campaign war chest in his first three months in the race.
Djou’s quarterly report shows he raised an impressive $436,992 between April and June. With no serious primary threat, he’s spent just $36,018 so far, leaving his campaign with $401,260.
Kim is the most equipped at this point to challenge Djou on the financial front in the Nov. 4 general election. She has $581,662 on hand, far more than any other candidate.
She raked in $201,385 this quarter — just $1 less than Takai after accounting for $9,990 in refunds he gave. She spent $154,615 during the quarter.
The other four candidates vying for the Democratic ticket in the 1st Congressional District race — Honolulu City Council members Ikaika Anderson and Joey Manahan, Sen. Will Espero and human rights activist Kathryn Xian — raised and spent considerably less money.
Kim devoted sizable chunks of her campaign cash to holding fundraisers and conducting polls, including $23,000 in April for consulting and polling services from D.C.-based Hart Research Associates.
She’s invested most heavily though in TV, print and radio ads, saturating the market with campaign messages this spring. She spent almost $93,000 between April and June on ads and another $5,850 on media consulting.
Takai directed a lot of his money to staff salaries, including thousands to Brian Cordova of Pennsylvania, James Cavin of Kailua, Kevin Groh of Alaska, Kendall Matsuyoshi of Aiea and Ellen Zeng of Washington, D.C.
Zeng was Takai’s campaign manager until this spring. But that didn’t work out after she received $11,189 for her work in April and May. The campaign, which had also given her $2,200 for airfare and help buying a car, cut her a check in May for $5,000 in severance pay.
The $9,990 in contributions Takai’s campaign had to refund are suspected of being mainland donors Zeng helped line up, many of whom are from her hometown of Cupertino, California.
Stanley Chang paid Honolulu-based Anthology Marketing Group $152,303 from April to June for advertising.
She’s now the campaign manager for singer Clay Aiken, who in May won the Democratic nomination in the race for a U.S. House seat representing North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District.
Aside from staff salaries, Takai spent more than $11,000 on printing costs for banners, signs and other efforts to get his name out in public view.
Takai spent a fraction of what Kim forked out on advertising. His quarterly report shows just $10,827 in ad expenses, plus $3,000 for social media and mail consulting.
His biggest single expense during the three-month period was $23,650 to D.C.-based consultants Normington, Petts and Associates for polling and campaign strategy.
Chang, the biggest spender, put most of his campaign cash toward advertising and political consulting.
He paid Honolulu-based Anthology Marketing Group $152,303 from April to June for advertising.
Chang, a young Chinese-American politician, also targeted ads to social media users, spending some $2,000 on Facebook, and $2,650 to Hawaii Chinese TV.
For political consulting, Chang paid $12,650 to Don Weigel of New York, $8,000 to Taeka Haraguchi of New York, $2,250 to Shayna Alexander of Pearl City, $11,241 to Alina Meltaus of D.C., $5,500 to Aaron Miller of Honolulu, $930 to Clinton Attaway of Honolulu, $600 to Demond Bell of Honolulu and $640 to Serene Collins of Kailua among others.
He also paid D.C.-based Christensen & Associates almost $6,000 for fundraising consulting during the three-month period.
Kim’s money comes predominantly from Hawaii lawyers, unions, state workers, real estate agents and others contributing hundreds or even a few thousand dollars at a time.
There are many familiar names, like lobbyist John Radcliffe, who’s given Kim $5,000 so far, former University of Hawaii football coach June Jones, who’s contributed $2,000, and Honolulu attorney Bert Kobayashi, who’s given $3,500.
There are also odd contributions, like one from Sametime Next Year, an Aiea source that donated $2,000 in April.
Kim has received significant contributions from political action committees, including $1,500 from Central Pacific Bank, $4,000 from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and $3,000 from Pacific Century Financial Corporation.
In all, Kim received $10,500 from PACs this quarter, $47,200 to date.
Takai, a veteran, received a lot of his money from fellow vets and military workers as well as retirees, business owners and attorneys.
Some contributors who gave money to Takai were also on Kim’s list of donors, like Radcliffe, who has given Takai $1,000 so far. But the vast majority were different sources, most donating hundreds or thousands of dollars at a time.
Many were local, like Honolulu attorney Christian Porter, who has donated $2,600. And others were from the mainland, like California carpenter Richard Williams, who has given $5,200.
PACs gave Takai $16,577 between April and June, bringing their total up to $64,177 for this election cycle.
The Amalgamated Transit Union, based in D.C., donated $5,000 to Takai’s campaign in June. Central Pacific Bank’s PAC gave him $1,500, Equality Hawaii donated $250 and the Sheet Metal Workers’ union contributed $2,000 during the past quarter.
The seven Democratic candidates for CD1 met in their first televised forum last week. Their next debate is set for July 23, hosted by KITV.