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.
Despair not, dear reader: The primary election ends Saturday, and all those political commercials viewers have been putting up with for months will disappear.
This is our last Ad Watch for a spell … until the general election heats up … hopefully not until well after Labor Day.
Earlier this week we looked at the latest batch of TV spots for the races for governor and lieutenant governor.
In this installment, we look at the ads for congressional candidates.
The lengthy, sometimes rough contest between U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz continues.
Hanabusa, whose last round of ads have featured her doing all the talking, continues the pattern with this spot:
Hawaii’s “values and traditions” — what, exactly, are those? Hanabusa does not say.
Does Schatz not have those same “values and traditions”? Hanabusa doesn’t say that, either.
“I worry that Hawaii is becoming more and more like everywhere else,” she says, “and less like the place we’ve always loved.”
You mean, less expensive? No, probably not.
I don’t want to read too much into this ad. Schatz isn’t even mentioned, after all.
But one could argue that the Hanabusa campaign is trying to draw a contrast with the other guy in the race — the one who wasn’t born here and didn’t grow up in Waianae. Ugh.
This next clip does a better job selling the candidate:
This video is a testimonial, the kind that candidates typically put on their websites to bolster their campaign. Most people will never see it.
But having a former Hawaii Supreme Court chief justice endorse Hanabusa for the Senate, as he did last year, is impressive. Note as well the presence of former governors Ben Cayetano and George Ariyoshi in the audience in this clip, and former U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka.
It’s a reminder that respected, old guard Democrats are backing the candidate who was preferred by none other than the late Dan Inouye.
The downside, though, is that younger voters may have no idea who these guys are.
Speaking of Schatz:
OMG! “Shared values!” What the heck are those?
Schatz doesn’t say. But apparently they are important to Schatz’s wife and parents and kids and in-laws, who are in this ad, along with cops, nurses, teachers, students, firefighters, Realtors, guys in hardhats and the entire middle class.
The ad mentions that Schatz was endorsed by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. So does this one:
OMG! “Hawaii values”! What the heck are those?
This ad comes from the League of Conservation Voters, which is backing Schatz. LCV’s work is independent of Schatz’s campaign, by law, but apparently the group has been in the islands long enough to learn that “values” is a magic, if vaguely defined, word here.
This is the second spot from LCV, by the way. Another independent group, Women Vote! of EMILY’s List, is said to be spending money this week on Hanabusa’s behalf.
If so, I have not seen any TV ads from the abortion rights group. EMILY’s List is also supporting state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim in her run for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional district. But I haven’t seen any TV ads for Kim from LVC, either.
The point is is that Schatz and state Rep. Mark Takai, another CD1 candidate, have benefitted from outside, largely single-issue groups dumping dollars in the local market — in Takai’s case, VoteVets.org, which has bought more airtime for the spot that links Takai, a military veteran, with the fabled 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the U.S. Army.
Speaking of Kim and Takai, who are way ahead of the other five Democrats in the CD1 contest, both have fresh ads.
Let’s start with Kim, who has no less than three:
These are issue ads — specifically, on the environment and care for kupuna.
Couple of thoughts: The tax on seniors’ pension that Gov. Neil Abercrombie proposed early in his first year in office has three years later became an issue in the Schatz v. Hanabusa race, in Shan Tsutsui and Clayton Hee in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, in Abercormbie’s race against state Sen. David Ige, and now in CD1.
The bill died, and the governor has said several times now that he will not bring the idea up again. But the pension tax’s return illustrates just how important the senior citizen vote is in Hawaii.
Another thought: The second and third ad from Kim use similar footage, which saves money but can also look like recycling. Folks watch a lot of TV, and some may notice this.
Final thought: Who knew Donna Kim paddles? The first ad is the best. Love the turtle. Love the plastic bag.
UPDATE: Here’s another TV ad from Kim:
Oh, Donna makes a return!
Thank you, Ritchie Valens. Can a version of “La Bamba” — maybe “La Donna” — be far behind?
OK, here’s Takai’s recent ad:
OMG! The Star-Advertiser has endorsed Takai too!
Do newspaper endorsements of political candidates make a difference? I don’t know, but Civil Beat doesn’t do them.
One other thought: Takai’s ads have been pretty terrific this election cycle, and he and Kim are in a tight race. They have raised the most money (along with Stanley Chang), and that has allowed them to buy the most TV time.
That, along with the outside spending, may be a big reason why Kim or Takai — barring a huge upset by one of the other CD1 wannabes — will be facing Republican Charles Djou in the general.