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Democrat Mark Takai has raised and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars more than Republican Charles Djou in their tight race to represent urban Oahu in Congress for the next two years.
But Djou had more than twice as much cash on hand in his campaign account — $626,191 to be exact — at the end of the most recent reporting period with the Federal Elections Commission.
With absentee ballots in the mail and early walk-in voting set to start Tuesday, Takai and Djou have their campaigns operating at full speed. Expect an uptick in political ads on TV, sign-waving on street corners and appearances at community events as the Nov. 4 general election rapidly approaches.
The 1st Congressional District candidates’ quarterly campaign finance reports, due Wednesday, show each raised significant sums of money from a wide range of sources between July 20 and Sept. 30.
The campaign donations came from family members, real estate agents, physicians, attorneys, developers, businessmen, retirees and veterans — mostly from Hawaii but also from the mainland.
Takai spent $451,085 during the reporting period, 2.4 times more than Djou. Takai’s total spending this election now nears $1 million.
“This campaign is more than just dollars and cents, we are a real team from our donors to our volunteers knocking doors and sign waving. Together, we will continue to work hard to bring our message to the voters of Hawaii,” Takai said in a news release Wednesday.
“At the end of the day, people know that retirement security, equal pay for equal work, and tax cuts for working families are what I stand for. Our support comes from the families, seniors, and students that I am working hard to represent.”
Djou spent $184,317 last quarter, bringing his overall spending up to $227,426 this election.
“Our strong financial position is a direct reflection of the hard work of my all-volunteer campaign team and the strength of our message — that we must lower Hawaii’s high cost of living, create jobs and take care of the next generation, but we can do that only if we elect someone who can work with both Democrats and the Republican majority in Congress,” Djou said in a news release.
“While I am honored to file such a strong financial report, the only true report that matters is the support of Hawaii’s voters on election day.”
Both candidates have devoted most of their money to familiar sources: TV, print and radio advertising; consultants; and campaign events.
Just over 38 percent of Takai’s total contributions this past quarter came from political committees, such as PACs, compared to 16 percent of Djou’s.
PACs representing banks, the maritime industry, Democratic Party interests, unions, educators and veterans all contributed to the $184,050 that Takai received this past period from independent groups. PACs have given him $252,343 so far this election cycle.
Political committees donated $58,200 to Djou’s campaign during the same period, July 20 to Sept. 30. He’s received $81,300 to date from PACs representing contractors, builders, oil companies, conservative interests, businesses, banks, dentists and candidates for Congress from other states, including House Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, whose PAC gave Djou $2,000 last month.
A key difference between the two candidates seems clearly reflected in the latest campaign contributions.
Takai supports keeping the Jones Act to preserve jobs, many of them unionized, while Djou wants an exemption for Hawaii from its requirement that ships be built in the U.S.
The top brass for Matson Navigation, the biggest cargo shipping company in Hawaii, has given Takai’s campaign several thousand dollars. And the company’s PAC, based in Oakland, donated $2,500.
Add to that $7,500 from the Masters, Mates and Pilots PAC, $1,000 from Florida-based Crowley Maritime Corporation’s PAC and over $15,000 from top officials at Navatek, a shipbuilding research company in Honolulu.
Djou has not received anywhere near this level of support from the maritime industry.
Both campaigns massaged the facts in their respective news releases Wednesday about the campaign finance reports.
Djou did so by saying he represented Hawaii in the U.S. House from 2010 to 2011, which is true, although he was only in office for seven months during that period. Djou, who has also served as a Honolulu City Councilman and state lawmaker, won a special election in May 2010 to fill the seat vacated by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who stepped down to run for governor.
Takai, a 20-year veteran of the Legislature, brightened his release by saying he raised $531,569 in the third quarter, which is true, but that figure includes a $50,000 loan he gave himself in the days leading up to the Aug. 9 primary election.