Welcome to Ad Watch, a Civil Beat series in which we analyze campaign messages from Hawaii candidates and national spots aimed at Hawaii voters.

Give credit to the Kirk Caldwell campaign: It stays consistent in its broadcast advertisements.

In the third political commercial for the Honolulu mayor’s re-election bid, he hits the very same points he did in two previous spots (one on TV, the other on radio): that he is focused on city infrastructure, from sewers to parks, from roads to playgrounds.

Homelessness, too, especially homeless veterans.

The latest ad, a one-minute radio spot, also employs the earnestness that Caldwell projects in his personal appearances — that of a hands-on executive who is doing the necessary (if unexciting) work the job requires.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell gets a hug from a supporter before he files his papers to run for mayor at Honolulu Hale. 4 may 2016.
Caldwell gets a hug from a supporter before he files his papers to run for mayor at Honolulu Hale on May 4. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

“What has Kirk Caldwell accomplished as mayor? Nothing,” the ad begins, featuring the sonorous and skeptical voice of a man.

“Excuse me?” a woman’s voice pipes up.

“I am making a negative campaign ad here,” the man explains.

But the woman quickly counters with a list of Caldwell accomplishments, starting with 1,100 paved roads under his watch.

Hawaii Elections Guide 2016

By the time the ad concludes, the man has given up on the attack.

Caldwell has a lot of money in his war chest and he held his latest fundraiser just last week. His main primary opponents, Charles Djou and Peter Carlisle, have little money, and it’s not likely there will be many TV ads coming from their respective campaigns. Such ads cost big bucks.

Their best hope is to harp on the Honolulu rail project, now pegged at a total cost of $8.1 billion or higher and currently proposed to stop (for now, anyway) at Middle Street.

Caldwell, who promised to “build rail better,” says not a word about rail in his latest ad, even though it is the biggest infrastructure project around in Hawaii history.

Will accentuating the positive work to get the mayor re-elected? That seems to be the strategy … for now.

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