Mark Takai needed more campaign money — and he got it.

The Democratic candidate for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District raised just over $200,000 — including $85,000 from political action committees, or PACs — during the first half of October, according to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission.

His Republican opponent, Charles Djou, pulled in $72,000 but outspent Takai by almost $82,000 during the same 15-day period.

Charles Djou and Mark Takai share a laugh during congressional debate at the Plaza Club in Honolulu on September 23, 2014

Charles Djou and Mark Takai share a laugh during a congressional debate at the Plaza Club in Honolulu on Sept. 23.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

With 12 days until the general election and the race still too close to call, the candidates are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into TV, print and radio ads. 

Absentee ballots have gone out and early walk-in voting started Tuesday at select polling places in each county. Each day closer to the Nov. 4 general means fewer potential voters for the candidates to attract.

Djou, a former Honolulu City Councilman and state lawmaker who served for seven months in Congress in 2010, may have raised a lot less money recently, but he has far more cash on hand heading into the home stretch. 

Takai, who’s served in the Legislature for the past 20 years, had $189,168 on hand as of Oct. 15, compared to Djou’s $416,014. How their campaigns choose to spend that money during this critical period will likely play a role in who wins.

Djou has raised $925,181 over the course of this election cycle and had spent $547,976 as of Oct. 15. Takai has raised $1.37 million to date and spent $1.21 million.

“I am encouraged and extremely grateful for every ounce of support. Strong fundraising enables us to communicate our vision, but it also funds our volunteer phone bankers, signwavers, and canvassers who reach every single voter,” Takai said in a statement Thursday.

A key difference is Takai, 47, spent over $500,000 before the Aug. 9 primary to beat six other Democrats. Djou, 44, was virtually uncontested and only spent a sliver of that amount this summer.

Physicians, developers, attorneys, business executives, Realtors and retirees donated the biggest amounts to Djou.

Tori Richard executive Joshua Feldman gave $1,000 to Djou; Jonathan Lai of the Honolulu law firm of Watanabe, Ing, Kawashima & Komeiji donated $1,150; and Hawaiian King Candies president Patrick Haddad contributed $2,600.

When it comes to PAC money, Djou received another $2,000 from the Conservative Opportunity  Leadership and Enterprise PAC, which is affiliated with Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma;  $2,500 from the California Water Service Group PAC, based in San Jose; and $2,500 from the Republican Jewish Coalition PAC out of Washington, D.C.

Djou, not unlike virtually any major candidate, has put almost all of his campaign money into media ads. He spent tens of thousands of dollars with KITV; Lin Television Corp, which owns KHON; and Raycom Media, which owns Hawaii News Now. He also spent almost $20,000 with Clear Channel Hawaii and Ohana Broadcast Company on radio ads earlier this month.

Takai’s donors include engineers, educators, business owners, tourism executives, real estate agents, consultants and homemakers. 

Pop Fishing and Marine vice president James Cook gave him another $2,600 this month; Di Gregorio Corp owner Enrico Di Gregorio, a Rhode Island-based construction company, donated $2,600; Episcopal Church in Hawaii bishop Robert Fitzpatrick has given $300; and Big Save supermarket CEO Charles Kawakami gave another $1,000; and actor George Takei contribured $500.

PACs pumped a ton of money into his campaign, whether they were representing nurses, postal workers, carpenters, pilots, unions, technology companies or environmental groups. 

The Amalgamated Transit Union, based in D.C., gave another $5,000; Sierra Club donated $2,500 this month; Planned Parenthood gave him $3,500; and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union contributed $5,000.

Takai also got campaign money from other members of Congress, including $2,000 from U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who is expected to easily win re-election against Republican Kawika Crowley.

Gabbard, a first-term Democrat who represents the neighbor islands and rural Oahu in the 2nd Congressional District, had $1.06 million on hand as of Oct. 15. She raised $35,436 this reporting period and spent $11,935.

About the Author