If Oahu residents think they’ve heard a lot on radio and television lately about how wonderful Kirk Caldwell is, it’s because they have.

The mayor’s re-election campaign spent more than $524,000 from July 1 to July 29, much of it for political advertising, according to state Campaign Spending Commission reports filed Wednesday.

The ad money went to all five broadcast TV stations and more than a half-dozen radio stations.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which has endorsed the Honolulu mayor’s re-election, received about $27,000 last month for print and online ads.

A screen shot from Mayor Caldwell's first television advertisement of the 2016 campaign.
A screen shot from Mayor Caldwell’s first television advertisement of the 2016 campaign. Caldwell For Mayor

The spending is understandable. Caldwell trails former congressman Charles Djou by 9 percent in The Civil Beat Poll released this week.

The mayor may also have his own internal data fueling his media-buying spree: He paid nearly $28,000 in July to two companies for polling, including SMS Research & Marketing Services.

During the same period in July, Djou spent $263,500, with much of the money going to some of the same vendors.

The third major candidate in the race, former mayor Peter Carlisle, spent just under $29,000 in the latest reporting cycle, most of it for radio and TV advertising.

Djou Out-Raises Opponents

Another big takeaway from the July campaign finance reports is that Djou raised more than twice as much money as Caldwell and Carlisle combined: $225,500 for Djou versus $68,800 for Caldwell and $56,700 for Carlisle.

Donors giving Djou big bucks include Dennis Mitsunaga, CEO of Mitsunaga and Associates engineering and construction (a total of $3,000 for this election), and executives Carol Ai May of City Mill ($2,000), Ryan Shindo of Hoku Scientific ($2,000) and Albert Shigemura of PVT Land Co. ($2,000).

Friends of Duke Aiona have given Djou $2,000 while the Oahu League of Republican Women PAC contributed $4,000.

A screen shot from Charles Djou's first television advertisement in the mayoral campaign.
A screen shot from Charles Djou’s first television advertisement in the mayoral campaign. Djou for Mayor

Caldwell continues to benefit from a variety of funding sources: labor union PACs (such as the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters, a total of $4,000 for this election), attorneys (such as Blake Oshiro, $1,700), architects (such as Robert Iopa, $4,000), lobbyists (such as Bruce Coppa, $2,000) and people who work for the mayor in the administration (such as chief spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke, $2,090).

Carlisle’s contributions were far more modest and included money from several of his law firm associates at O’Connor Playdon & Guben, $500 from the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association Hotelpac, and Jim Fulton, a longtime Carlisle associate who is helping him with his campaign.

Hawaii Elections Guide 2016

Carlisle’s campaign says it has $24,500 in cash on hand. But there are debts totaling $26,698, much of it coming from loans from Carlisle himself and Fulton. Carlisle even gave his own campaign a $4,000 contribution.

While Djou is trumpeting the fact that he out-raised Caldwell and claiming to have momentum as the Aug. 13 primary nears — two press releases were issued Thursday to that effect — another telling metric may be cash on hand.

Djou had $194,000 compared with Caldwell’s $774,000.

Should the two candidates advance to the general election after the primary (barring the possibility that one may win outright with a majority of the total votes cast), Caldwell could begin the fall battle with more than three times the money of Djou.

But then, there is still eight days to go before the primary — plenty of time to spend more money.

The Return Of PRP?

A big question that still remains is: What will the Pacific Resource Partnership do?

The PRP is a consortium of the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters — the largest construction union in the state — and more than 240 contractors that has a goal of creating more construction work for its membership.

In 2012, PRP launched a super PAC to oppose former Gov. Ben Cayetano’s bid for Honolulu mayor. Cayetano was a vocal opponent of the rail project, and said he would dismantle it if elected.

The PRP’s super PAC became a political juggernaut unlike any Hawaii had ever seen, spending more than $3.5 million to influence local races. Most of that cash went toward ensuring that Cayetano was not elected mayor and that Caldwell, who was pro-rail, took office.

According to the Campaign Spending Commission, PRP’s super PAC, Forward Progress, raised and spent $50,000 from Jan. 1 to July 29. The money was spent in mid-July polling Oahu residents about rail and the 2016 elections.

While PRP has been quiet so far this election season, the silence may not last should there be a runoff between Caldwell and Djou.

Get engaged! Join in the discussion of candidates and issues in the 2016 elections in our new Facebook Group, Civil Beat Politics. Connect with others and learn how to get involved in community issues that are central to this year’s elections.

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