A dozen people in Hawaii are set to enjoy influential, decently paid jobs with great benefits for the next two years and all they had to do was sign up to run for office.
That’s according to a list of interesting 2014 election stats compiled by the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission staff. They let the numbers do most of the talking, whether it’s how many people have already won seats in state and county offices before the Nov. 4 general election has even taken place or how many super PACs have been working to influence races without filing a single campaign finance report yet.
In all, two state senators (Kalani English and Breene Harimoto), six House reps (Romy Cachola, Ty Cullen, Cindy Evans, Ken Ito, Marcus Oshiro and Karl Rhoads), two Hawaii County Council members (Dru Kanuha and Dennis Onishi) and two Maui County Council members (Stacy Crivello and Riki Hokama) ran unopposed this election.
Some have held their seats for a long time, such as English and Oshiro, but it’s Harimoto’s first time seeking a seat in the Legislature after serving on the Honolulu City Council. Harimoto will replace Sen. David Ige, who left to run for governor. Apparently no one else in the Pearl City district thinks they could do a better job.
Alleged voter intimidation and the misuse of campaign funds apparently aren’t enough to get someone to run against Cachola. In September, the Honolulu Ethics Commission fined him $50,000, the largest civil fine its ever imposed. That came on the heels of the state Campaign Spending Commission fining him $2,500 and forcing him to reimburse his campaign account $32,000 to settle an eight-month investigation into improper expenditures.
Overall, 23 of the 102 seats up for election in 2014 have already been decided.
Eleven others have already secured positions in elected office after winning by such a large margin in the Aug. 9 primary.
Clift Tsuji, Justin Woodson, Mele Carroll, Isaac Choy and Henry Aquino will all be returning to their seats in the House. Same for incumbent Ernie Martin and first-time candidate Brandon Elefante on the Honolulu City Council; Greggor Illagan and Maile Davis-Medeiros on the Hawaii County Council; and Peter Apo for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Overall, 23 of the 102 seats up for election in 2014 have already been decided. The field was dramatically trimmed in the primary, of course.
In the case of the governors race, money was not the magic wand needed to make it to the general election.
The Campaign Spending Commission crunched the numbers and determined that Gov. Neil Abercrombie spent just over $70 per vote. State Sen. David Ige, his opponent in the Democratic primary who won 67 percent to 32 percent, spent just $3.69 per vote.
Primary election activity through the primary shows former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, the Republican candidate for governor, spent $10.27 per vote; former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, the Independent Party candidate, spent $23.23 per vote; and Libertarian Jeff Davis spent $1.96 per vote.
When it comes to outside money, there are 26 independent expenditure committees, super PACs, registered with the state. The Campaign Spending Commission identified the biggest spenders as:
The American Comeback Committee Hawaii PAC and Hawaii Forward have not had to file a single campaign finance disclosure report yet with the Campaign Spending Commission. The two groups are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads to influence the governor’s race.
The public has also been in the dark in terms of how much the other PACs have been spending and on which races since the primary.
The next campaign finance reports are due Monday, just eight days before the election.
It’s the same situation for the ballot issue committees, which operate similarly. There are several spending significant sums of money trying to sway voters on ballot questions related to early childhood education, agriculture enterprises and genetically engineered organisms.
The public will get its first look at reports for those 11 committees on Monday as well.
Keep up with this year’s candidates and campaigns with Civil Beat’s Hawaii Elections Guide 2014. Go to our unofficial General Election Ballot for a list of races and candidates including links to candidates’ answers on key questions.