The party convention is over, the field is closed and the union endorsements are in.
From here until the Aug. 11 primary election, many registered voters are likely to be influenced by campaign advertising.
In their latest television spots, the top candidates in the Democratic primary for governor — Gov. David Ige and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa — stress what makes them the better choice to lead the state for the next four years.
For Ige, his second ad is an improvement over his first, which smartly reminded TV viewers of his immigrant background but (in my view) took a little more credit for some of his accomplishments than was warranted.
The latest ad, titled “Overheated,” is sharply focused on the plan for installing air conditioning in public school classrooms. That’s an accomplishment the governor rightly deserves some credit for making happen.
He made it a priority in his 2016 state of the state address, apologized when his administration fell short in fulfilling his promise and kept at it until, as the new ad contends, more than 1,200 classrooms now have AC units.
At the Democratic Party of Hawaii state convention last month, Ige said the number of units helped with heat abatement (which can include AC) was now up to 1,300 and climbing. The Hawaii Legislature has helped with funding.
The 30-second “Overheated” wisely uses a school teacher to praise the governor, who does not speak but appears several times with students in softly lit scenes accompanied by a soundtrack that evokes mild drama.
By extension, the ad suggests the governor is a leader when it comes to education — one of Ige’s top priorities.
Hanabusa’s first TV spot is titled “Understands,” and it centers on her main rationale for her candidacy: leadership.
Her leadership, the 30-second ad asserts, is based on the fact that Hanabusa understands the needs of Hawaii’s people. As explained in the spot, Hawaii’s people means union members, business owners, seniors, veterans, women, families and kids. In other words, everyone.
“Understands” identifies no accomplishments by the candidate, other than to say that she has a “proven record” of leadership.
But the ad is beautiful. Never have Matson container ships and a frozen fish auction — iconic Hawaii images — looked so appealing.
Unlike Ige in his ad, Hanabusa is in every frame. She says nothing, but the message is clear: Hanabusa is a good listener, and she knows how to communicate effectively with a broad section of the local population.
One other observation of both ads: Each candidate is shown (by my count) to have made four wardrobe changes. To me, that is attention to detail and shows both campaigns have hired slick ad producers.
When former state Sen. Clayton Hee dropped out of the Democratic primary for governor earlier this month, one of the reasons he cited was his expectation that Ige and Hanabusa would spend “millions of dollars in the media blitz” prior to the primary.
I suspect he is correct.
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