Capitalizing on his incumbency, Hawaii Gov. David Ige has hauled in $810,903 for his re-election campaign against Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa in what’s expected to be a tough Democratic primary this fall.

Hanabusa, who tiptoed into the race in August but did not officially announce her intent to run until Jan. 8, raised $731,945 during the most recent reporting period, from July 1 to Dec. 31.

The disclosures were due Wednesday with the state Campaign Spending Commission.

Ige, who has held 11 fundraisers since September, had $942,141 on hand after spending $115,224 during the six-month period.

Governor David Ige State of State 2018.
Gov. David Ige raised more money for his re-election campaign than his chief Democratic opponent, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, but she wasn’t far behind and only entered the race a few months ago. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2018

Engineers, architects, developers, attorneys and top members of his administration contributed to his effort to secure another four-year term.

“I feel really good about where we’re at,” Ige said in an interview. “Fundraising has gone well. There’s lots of support in the community.”

Hanabusa has spent $70,654 getting her campaign up and running and had $661,290 on hand by year’s end. She’s held three fundraisers since September, according to the commission’s website.

Her donations have come from business titans, attorneys, developers, commercial fishing industry leaders and energy company executives.

“We are greatly encouraged by this immense show of support from the community,” Hanabusa said in a statement. “The warmth and enthusiasm of individuals from across all islands have been overwhelming.”

Ige Steps Up His Fundraising

Campaign fundraising will likely play a more important for Ige this election than anytime in his 20-year political career.

He often went unchallenged to keep his state Senate seat representing Pearl City and Aiea and he won a decisive victory over former Gov. Neil Abercrombie in 2014 despite a 10-to-1 fundraising disadvantage.

Abercrombie had $2.2 million in his war chest at this point in the race, having raised more funds throughout his time as governor. He brought in $533,717 from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2013, while Ige raised just $56,726 during the same six-month period.

Ige had only $75,531 on hand at the time but nonetheless went on to win with two-thirds of the vote against Abercrombie, who had grown unpopular with teachers and others who had initially supported him.

Now it’s Ige in the role of incumbent who has to defend his record.

“As governor I have to make decisions every day that impact the people of Hawaii,” Ige said. “We know that it will take more resources to tell the story.”

But he said the campaign’s core strategy will remain the same — grassroots.

“I’m excited about the campaign,” Ige said. “We’re really starting to ratchet up the coffee hours, stew and rice, and other kinds of activities. I enjoy that kind of campaigning because it gives me the chance to talk to people and gives me the opportunity to listen to what’s of concern.”

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who formally launched her campaign for governor Jan. 8, raised $731,945 in about four months. Ige raised $810,903 during the same reporting period. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

He faces a formidable opponent in Hanabusa, who is working on her own grassroots campaign and looking to take advantage of miscues the governor has made.

“Our focus has been on grassroots efforts statewide and establishing a sound foundation on which we can build toward a strong position to carry us through to the Primary Election in August,” Hanabusa said in a statement.

Last week Hanabusa decried Ige’s “failure of leadership” during the false missile alert that the state Emergency Management Agency sent out Jan. 13, which put isle residents in panic mode for 38 minutes.

After an internal investigation headed by a brigadier general appointed by Ige, the head of the agency resigned and those involved in the mishap have either quit or been fired.

Ige said his focus since taking office has been on governing but he has recently turned more attention to raising the resources needed for re-election.

Bowers + Kubota, an Oahu architectural firm with many public contracts including the Honolulu rail project, has delivered the biggest cash infusion to his campaign. Thirteen employees each donated the maximum $6,000, for a combined $78,000.

The hundreds of donors included developer Stanford Carr, who contributed $2,000, and  Monsanto, which gave $1,000. Sen. Gregg Takayama donated $3,000 of his own campaign money and Roberts Hawaii transportation officials gave $5,000.

From his administration, Ige received $1,500 from interim Tax Director Linda Chu Takayama, $1,000 from Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda, and $5,000 from Deputy Comptroller Audrey Hidano.

Hanabusa’s Big Donors

Hanabusa received a combined $18,000 from two employees and a political action committee affiliated with Florida-based NextEra Energy, the company that tried to buy Hawaiian Electric Industries for $4.3 billion. The Public Utilities Commission rejected the sale in 2016, finding it not to be in the public interest.

The Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters political action committee contributed $6,000 to her campaign, Realtor Jeff Stone added another $6,000, businessman Walter Dods and his wife Diane gave $10,000, Jim Cook of POP Fishing and Marine donated $6,000 and Michael Goto of the United Fishing Agency gave $1,000.

Lobbyists, such as Bruce Coppa of Capitol Consultants of Hawaii, and Hawaiian Electric officials, including Alan Oshima and Constance Lau, donated thousands of dollars to each candidate.

In the Republican race for governor, Rep. Andria Tupola and former state lawmaker John Carroll had not filed their campaign finance reports by Wednesday evening.

State Sen. Jill Tokuda led campaign fundraising in the race for lieutenant governor, bringing in $334,305 during the six-month period ending Dec. 31. She spent $55,407 during that time and had $403,495 on hand.

State Sen. Josh Green had the most campaign money in his account, $536,495, and spent the most of any of the candidates, $156,073. He raised $206,591 during the reporting period.

Former state Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto raised the third-most of the lieutenant governor candidates, hauling in $112,146. She spent $41,704 and had $83,904 in her campaign account at the end of the year.

State Sen. Will Espero brought in $25,275 during the six-month period. He spent $11,158 and had $65,580 on hand.

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. raised $14,630 and spent $42,563. He had $12,296 on hand.

About the Author