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.
There will be no more statewide televised debates between Democrat Mark Takai and Republican Charles Djou before Nov. 4.
To learn more about Takai, the state representative, and Djou, the former state representative and former Honolulu City Councilman, running for the 1st Congressional District many voters will have to rely on mailers and television commercials.
There is no shortage of those, as seen in these latest ads for CD1 candidates. In the first, Takai, a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard, reminds us of his dedication to veterans:
Takai is playing the veterans card — something he did during the primary — and he’s playing it very well. It’s hard not to get a little weepy seeing veterans tear up over the loss of their own veteran sons.
As explained in the video, the Hawaii Medal of Honor was Takai’s idea as a state representative. It may well catapult him to the U.S. Congress, where he would join fellow veteran Tulsi Gabbard, who’s heavily favored to win re-election.
OK, that TV ad is about Takai the Veteran. Here’s another one of Takai the Dad:
Nice spot: family, beach, Medicare, education, the middle class, Democrat for Hawaii. Takai has hit all those themes (except the beach) in previous ads.
Combined with the vets angle, the ads allow Takai to define Takai in a very strong light.
Speaking of veterans and families, here’s the latest from Takai’s Republican opponent, Charles Djou:
Djou, a major in the U.S. Army Reserve and the father of three, does the same as Takai in reminding us he is both a veteran and a dad. It also reminds us that he is a former congressman and that dealing with the national debt is among his priorities. (Note: Still no mention of the fact that Djou is a member of the GOP.)
Indeed, Djou, in introducing this latest political ad to his supporters via email, stressed his concerns about the debt: “The commercial addresses the $17.5 trillion national debt plaguing our nation. In individual terms, this means that each and every one of us — including our children and grandchildren — owe nearly $60,000 in debt.”
Djou also warns in his campaign email, “In the coming days, you will see our opponent become increasingly negative trying to instill fear in the electorate with a mindset mired in partisanship and fingerpointing.” That hasn’t happened yet, however. But there are still more than two weeks left until Election Day.
Speaking of negative advertising:
As Civil Beat has reported, groups representing the Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association are buying lots of air time on behalf of Duke Aiona and David Ige, two of the leading candidates for governor.
This latest spot from the RGA continues to beat the drum tying Ige to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the state’s troubled health insurance exchange and the beleaguered Hawaii Health System Corporation. Coupled with other RGA ads lambasting Ige for raising taxes (or proposing to), the ads could turn voters off to the Democratic nominee.
But there is also a new spot that casts Aiona in a dark shadow — but it’s not from the DGA:
The NEA Advocacy Fund launched “Enough,” a television and digital ad, “to remind voters in Hawaii about the bad days of the Lingle-Aiona administration,” according to a press release from the group. The ad buy is “six figures” and is scheduled to run through Oct. 20 in Hawaii’s media market.
The NEA, which typically supports Democrats, is the National Education Association. It calls itself “the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.”
This is a powerful ad and, though Aiona has taken pains to separate himself from former Gov. Linda Lingle, he was her lieutenant governor. Dawn O’Brien, Aiona’s press secretary, released this statement in response to the NEA spot:
“It’s disappointing that during an election year, the same unions that negotiated for furloughs are now funding misleading attacks to support David Ige who voted for these very education cuts. What is clear is that the policies of the past four years have been failing Hawai‘i families, and a new direction is needed to lower the cost of living and grow the economy to fund an education system that we can all be proud of.”
Finally this week, U.S. Senate Candidate Cam Canvasso started his television advertising campaign. It centers in part around the high cost of living in Hawaii:
The ads seem produced on a shoe-string budget, just straight-on shots of the candidate filmed with the same background. At least he changes shirts!
Cavasso does manage to cram a lot into the spots, though: the Jones Act, Pono Choices, global warm, terrorism, Neil Abercrombie.
In informing folks of the new ads, Cavasso said in a media advisory that he was available “for quotes, further comment, clarification” and interviews.
Cavasso is not favored to defeat Brian Schatz, the Democratic incumbent. But he’s giving it his best effort.