Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell defeated challenger Charles Djou 51 percent to 47 percent Nov. 8 — a solid win but no runaway.

When it came to raising and spending campaign cash during the 2016 election, however, the incumbent far exceeded his opponent.

Caldwell’s campaign raised $3.6 million and spent just about all of it to defeat Djou, a former congressman, state legislator and Honolulu City Council member.

Jubilant Mayor Caldwell raises arms after second printout at campaign headquarters on Ward Ave. 8 nov 2016
Mayor Caldwell after the second printout of results on election night showed him in the lead. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

In fact, the mayor reported a deficit of $78,400 for the most recent filing period with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission. Caldwell lent himself $100,000 in the final days of the contest.

Djou brought in $985,000 for his race and spent all but about $28,000.

Charles Djou
Charles Djou 

Djou entered the race in late spring and held 12 fundraisers from June 22 to Oct. 28. Caldwell held 45 fundraisers dating back to April 2013, a few months after he was sworn in for his first term.

Late contributors at the $4,000 or higher level to Caldwell included Mark Wang, an executive vice president with Hilton Worldwide in Orlando, Florida; Imanaka and Asato attorney Owen Iida; and Honolulu rail contractor CH2M Hill of Englewood, Colorado.

Late contributors at the same level to Djou included David Chan of KCR Management, and Evershine Group and KC Realty, both based in Cupertino, California.

Ads, Ads And More Ads

Not surprisingly, most of the campaign expenses in the weeks leading up to Election Day went toward advertising, ranging from television and radio spots to mailers, from T-shirts to posts on social media.

The Caldwell campaign in particular also paid to track how the mayor was comparing to his opponent.

Caldwell again outpaced Djou, dropping $273,000 on ads and polling.

It included $125,000 to Anthology Marketing Group for ads, more than $23,000 to SMS Research and Marketing Services for surveys, polling and voter lists; and $5,000 to Campaign Communication Solutions of Rancho Mirage, California, also for surveys, polls and voter lists.

Djou spent less than half of what Caldwell spent on advertising during the campaign’s late stage and reported no expenditures going toward polling.

A super PAC funded heavily by Hawaii labor groups spent about $1 million working to defeat Charles Djou in the Honolulu mayor's race.
A super PAC funded heavily by Hawaii labor groups spent about $1 million working to defeat Charles Djou in the Honolulu mayor’s race. Workers for a Better Hawaii

As Civil Beat reported Nov. 1, several super PACs raised over $1 million to favor either Djou or Caldwell.

One of those PACs, the pro-Caldwell Workers for a Better Hawaii, ended up raising $983,000 before Election Day and spent most of it. Big donors were the Hawaii State AFL-CIO ($150,000 total) and the Hawaii Government Employees Association ($208,000 total).

During the last two weeks of the election, Workers for a Better Hawaii spent $368,000 — over three times what Djou spent — with the biggest chunk of it going toward advertising either opposing Djou or praising Caldwell.

The anti-Caldwell super PAC Save Our City, as of Monday, had not filed an updated report with the Campaign Spending Commission. A previous filing showed much of the PAC’s money coming from people associated with engineering and architectural firm Mitsunaga and Associates.

It did, however, list three people donating $5,000 each in the waning days of the election: Ernest Languisan, Ernest Morimoto and Ben Cayetano.

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