- Special Projects
Former Congressman Charles Djou raised nearly $260,000 in the first three weeks of his campaign for Honolulu mayor, a sign that he’s a strong challenger, but one who is up against an incumbent with over $1.2 million in cash on hand.
Djou had no campaign funds prior to announcing his candidacy June 7 and raised an average of $11,277 per day from June 7 to June 30, according to his financial report filed Thursday.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell still has by far the most money, but it remains to be seen how damaged he is by an $8.3 billion rail project that is now about 60 percent over budget. Rail has emerged as a central issue in the campaign.
A third candidate, former mayor Peter Carlisle, reported raising no money from June 6, when he filed to run, and June 30, the end of the latest campaign finance reporting period.
Candidates submitted campaign finance reports Thursday covering the period from Jan. 1 to June 30.
During that time, Caldwell held eight fundraisers and raised $426,479.44. The mayor had $1.6 million at the end of last year, but spent over $814,000 during the first six months of this year. As of June 30 he had about $1.2 million on hand.
Djou had spent less than $10,000 as of June 30 and had $250,140 on hand.
Djou held two fundraisers just a week apart at 3660 On The Rise, an upscale restaurant in Kaimuki, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Restaurant Row near downtown Honolulu. Both events had a suggested donation of $1,000.
The former congressman has been getting support from the business community and former political leaders.
Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle gave Djou $2,000. So did Malcolm Tom, who leads the firm KDI Investments and served as deputy managing director and chief budget officer under former Mayor Jeremy Harris.
Although Djou has been vocal in his opposition to spending any more on rail than what’s already been allotted, he got a $1,000 donation from David Tanoue, a manager at R.M. Towill, a major rail contractor. Tanoue is also a former city planning director.
Nan Chul Shin, project manager at Nan Inc., another large rail contractor, gave Djou $4,000.
Djou attracted donations from many other prominent business leaders, including Paul Kosasa, the chief executive officer of ABC Stores, and Howard Higa, president of The Cab taxi company.
Djou also garnered $4,000 from Morris Stoebner, president of Honda Windward, and $4,000 from William van den Hurk, president of Aloha Auto Group.
He attracted similar donations from unions, including the political action committee fund for the union for electricians, Local Union 1186 IBEW.
Even the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association’s political action committee gave Djou $500.
Djou’s biggest expenditure so far was $3,656.55 to a Louisiana-based company called Anedot, which provides a platform for organizing donations.
The candidate’s second-biggest expenditure so far was $3,227.23 for food and beverages.
Djou’s success at raising money stands in stark contrast to Carlisle, the former mayor who who reported no cash on hand as of June 30.
Carlisle has previously said he will take advantage of the state’s partial public funding program. That would require him to raise $50,000 in order to receive the same amount in taxpayer funds.
He declined to comment on his fundraising efforts Thursday.
“Maybe when I’ve scraped together $2 or $3 and I’m ready to put on a roaring campaign,” he said.
That same night, Caldwell held a fundraiser of his own at the location of the now-shuttered Brasserie Du Vin restaurant in Chinatown. The suggested donation was $50.
It was the latest in a string of fundraisers Caldwell has held this year. Like Djou, the list of donors to Caldwell over the last six months includes many prominent businesses and executives.
Since January, Caldwell has received $6,000 from executives at Matson, $5,000 from executives at D.R. Horton, $3,000 from employees of the engineering firm and rail contractor Bowers + Kubota Consulting and over $15,000 from executives at HDR, an engineering and consulting firm.
Abigail Kawananakoa, a descendant of Hawaiian royalty and millionaire heiress to the James Campbell estate, donated $4,000 to Caldwell in March.
The donation is notable as Kawananakoa was behind a lawsuit against the city challenging the validity of City Council votes for the rail project.
While Caldwell has been raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, he spent nearly twice as much as he raised over the past six months.
His biggest expenses include over $220,000 to Anthology Marketing Group for advertising, research and other services.
Caldwell spent over $225,000 on TV and radio ads.