Money may be the mother’s milk of politics, but it’s no guarantee of victory.

Just ask Wally Lau, who lost by a 2-to-1 vote margin to Harry Kim in the primary battle for Hawaii Island mayor.

Lau, a former managing director, spent more than 14 times what Kim, a former mayor, spent on his campaign.

New data from the state Campaign Spending Commission shows that Lau spent$200,068 to Kim’s $13,805.

To put it another way, Lau spent about $20 per vote to Kim’s 67 cents.

Hawaii Island Mayor forum Wally Lau speak. 14 july 2016
Harry Kim, left, and Wally Lau at a mayoral forum in Hilo in July. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

It was the greatest spending disparity in all contests last year. In fact, 20 percent of all winning candidates were outspent by their closest spending opponents.

Other campaign spending nuggets from 2016:

  • Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell outspent Charles Djou in the general election by a more than 3-to-1 ratio. Caldwell dropped $3,410,704 while Djou blew through $963,210
  • Caldwell held 45 fundraisers since his last election in 2012, compared to Djou’s 12 fundraisers in a span of five months in 2016.
  • The mayor’s 45 fundraisers “topped the list” of the number of fundraisers held by candidates that ran in 2016.
  • In the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s race, incumbent Keith Kaneshiro spent $100,684 on his easy re-election while his opponent Anosh Yaqoob spent nothing.
  • Hawaii super political action committees raised $2,029,255 and spent $1,663,481.
  • The pro-Caldwell, anti-Djou Workers for a Better Hawaii raised the most out of all the 17 super PACs ($983,000) with $500,000 coming from the Regional Council of Carpenters, $208,000 from the Hawaii Government Employees Association and $150,000 from the Hawaii State AFL-CIO.
  • Save Our City spent $213,636.99 to oppose Caldwell but spent nothing to support Djou. Most of the money came from engineer Dennis Mitsunaga and individuals employed by Mitsunaga & Associates.

Among other items, the Campaign Spending Commissions allows folks to see not only the total amount of monies raised and spent by office and cost per vote, but also top 10 lists of receipts, contributions received and loans expenditures.

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