Democrat Stanley Chang, a former Honolulu City Councilman, has raised and spent more than three times as much as state Sen. Sam Slom, the chamber’s only Republican member, in his bid to represent Senate District 9, which spans Diamond Head to Hawaii Kai.
Indeed, few Hawaii legislative races are close when it comes to raising and spending money this year, according to the latest reports from the Campaign Spending Commission.
Chang has hauled in roughly $61,000 since the August primary, bringing his overall contributions for this race to $150,690.
He spent $72,216 during the most recent reporting period, which covers Aug. 14 to Oct. 24, and $126,737 so far this election. Chang had $23,953 on hand as of Oct. 24.
Slom, who has held the seat since 1996, has struggled to keep pace financially in his quest for another four-year term.
He reported raising $6,471 since the primary, bringing his overall contributions to $43,722. He spent $25,682 during the period and $36,194 this election. He had $8,988 on hand.
If Slom loses, the 25-member Hawaii State Senate would become the first one-party chamber in the nation since 1980, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Thousands more came from the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters, the Painters Union, Plumbers and Fitters Union and the Hawaii Masons Union.
Attorneys, such as Dean Yamamoto, and developers, like David Tanoue of R.M. Towill Corporation, each gave $2,000.
Chang, 34, is using that money to mail campaign material directly to voters’ homes, feed volunteers, hire millennial consultants and buy yard signs.
Slom’s biggest single donation came from Monte Petersen of Honolulu, who wrote him a $750 check on Sept. 16. He’s also received money from Louise Jeffs, director of Waikele Farms, who’s donated $1,000 so far this election cycle, including a $500 donation she made Aug. 26.
Slom, 74, spent most of his campaign funds on direct mailers to voters’ homes, though not to the extent Chang did. Slom also bought yard signs and T-shirts.
Lee, who lost her past two elections, raised twice as much money as Fukumoto Chang since the primary, but still raised and spent less overall this election.
Fukumoto Chang reported raising $5,220 from Aug. 14 to Oct. 24, bringing her overall contributions for this race to $46,436. She spent $18,254 during that period and $28,617 this election, and had $32,003 on hand as of Oct. 24.
Fukumoto Chang’s campaign donors include political action committees, the president of King Auto Center, retirees and Hanapohaku LLC, which bought land across from Shark’s Cove on the North Shore that’s become a site for food trucks.
Lee raised $11,994 since the primary, bringing her overall contributions for this race to $20,519. She spent $13,527 during the period and $19,943 this election.
She was $1,763 in the hole as of Oct. 24.
Lee, who had raised little money before the primary, received donations from retirees, public and private worker unions and state Rep. Marcus Oshiro, among others.
She didn’t receive any money from House lawmakers in leadership positions, such as Finance Chair Sylvia Luke or Majority Leader Scott Saiki, who regularly donate to Democratic candidates in tight races. Saiki has said he works well with Fukumoto Chang.
Saiki and Luke have together put $3,000 into Democrat Stacelynn Eli’s campaign to unseat Republican Rep. Andria Tupola, who’s seeking her second two-year term representing Oahu’s west side in the 51-member House.
Rep. Aaaron Ling Johanson added another $1,000 to Eli’s coffers, and she also received money from unions.
Eli raised $12,271 from Aug. 14 to Oct. 24, bringing her overall contributions for this race to $32,464. She spent $10,628 during that period and $24,684 this election. She had $7,779 on hand, according to her latest disclosure report.
Republicans have stepped up for Tupola though, with Reps. Gene Ward and Bob McDermott, former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona and the Oahu League of Republican Women PAC donating a total of more $2,000 this election.
She’s also receiving financial help from SHOPO, which on Oct. 24 donated $2,000 — her biggest contribution during the reporting period.
Tupola, one of just seven House Republicans, raised $19,389 from Aug. 14 to Oct. 24, bringing her overall contributions for this race to $55,246. She spent $23,037 during that period and $53,552 this election. She had $6,432 on hand.
Also out on the west side of Oahu, Democrat Cedric Gates is similarly receiving help from Democratic elected officials in his battle against Republican Marc Paaluhi.
Gates has raised and spent roughly twice as much as Paaluhi, receiving $2,000 from Luke, $1,000 from Saiki, $500 from Rep. Mark Hashem, $2,000 from Sen. Maile Shimabukuro and $2,000 from Honolulu City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine in the past two months.
Paaluhi reported raising $9,710 since the primary, including $1,500 from United Public Workers — one of the state’s biggest public-employee unions, which generally backs Democratic candidates.
Paaluhi raised $14,317 so far this election cycle. He spent $9,718 during the reporting period and $14,317 to date. He had $1,307 on hand.
Gates is receiving campaign money from major developers, such as Jeff Stone, Stanford Carr and the Kane Group.
Carr and Pacific Links Hawaii are planning a reported $300 million resort and golf course in Makaha Valley. Micah Kane is on Pacific Links’ board of advisors and is also president of the Hawaii Community Foundation.
Gates reported receiving a $1,000 contribution Sept. 20 from Kane Group and $250 from Stanford Carr Development on Oct. 18.
His contribution reports, filed Tuesday with the state Campaign Spending Commission, show he has received an aggregate amount of $1,500 so far this election from Kane and $1,250 from Carr.
But his earlier contribution reports don’t list prior donations from either donor, making it unclear when that money was given to him. Gates did not return a message seeking comment.
Gates was the only candidate to oust an incumbent in the Democratic primary, defeating Rep. Jo Jordan. But his candidacy was subsequently challenged because he was not technically a member of the Democratic Party, having run as a Green Party candidate in 2014.
Democratic Party officials, while acknowledging “procedural or bureaucratic errors,” ultimately offered him membership last month.
In another closely watched race, five-term House Rep. Karl Rhoads is on the cusp of entering the Senate.
The Democrat cleared a crowded primary in the race to fill longtime Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland’s seat representing downtown Honolulu. Chun Oakland decided to retire.
Rhoads’ last hurdle is getting past Democrat-turned-Republican Rod Tam and Libertarian Harry Ozols.
Tam served two days in jail in 2011 for stealing city funds and violating campaign finance laws as a Honolulu City Council member, but state Republican Party officials welcomed him as their candidate and say he deserves a fresh start. Tam previously served in the House and Senate.
Tam has struggled to raise campaign funds though, and GOP groups have not offered much help. He’s raised $5,769 so far this election and has $1,549 on hand.
His biggest single contributor has been Ben Saguibo, who gave him $2,000 in June. He is listed as a retired Haleiwa resident in campaign finance records.
Saguibo used to head the Hawaii Laborers’ Union until the union’s parent organization took it over amid allegations of local officials giving preferential treatment to friends and relatives for construction jobs and spending almost half a million dollars on trips to the Philippines, according to a Honolulu Advertiser story in 2007.
Rhoads is getting campaign support from Senate Ways and Means Chair Jill Tokuda, who has given him the maximum $4,000 allowable this election cycle. Other Democratic lawmakers have each donated hundreds of dollars, including Sens. Donovan Dela Cruz, Michelle Kidani, Roz Baker and Shimabukuro. Lobbyists and unions have contributed thousands more.
He had $11,112 in cash on hand as of Oct. 24 after spending $169,917 so far this election, including $29,530 since the primary.
Rhoads has spent tens of thousands of dollars on targeted campaign ads mailed to the district’s residents, far surpassing the few hundred dollars Tam has spent, mostly on food for campaign volunteers.
Review candidates’ campaign expenses and contributions on the Campaign Spending Commission’s website here.
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