Be Change Now, the latest super PAC created by the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters, has poured nearly $3 million into Hawaii’s 2018 primary election cycle, campaign spending reports released late Wednesday show.

Much of that cash is going to support U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s bid to become governor.

The group reported collecting exactly $3 million since Jan. 1 and spending $2.89 million on local candidates, including Hanabusa and state Sen. Josh Green’s bid for lieutenant governor, through July 27, according to filings with the state Campaign Spending Commission.

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa and Gov David Ige at a Gubernatorial Debate held at the Kamehameha Schoos.
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa has received big support from the carpenters union and other super PACs, while Gov. David Ige’s campaign had more cash on hand to spend before the Aug. 11 primary. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The influential super PAC still had a surplus of more than $113,000 as the Aug. 11 primary approaches.

The union’s spending in this cycle nearly rivals its 2012 electoral push, when its former super PAC, Pacific Resource Partnership, devoted at least $3.2 million to helping Kirk Caldwell defeat the state’s former governor, Ben Cayetano, in the Honolulu mayor’s race.

Caldwell’s win ensured the city’s rail project would proceed.

Meanwhile, Gov. David Ige and Hanabusa have spent about $2 million of their own campaign funds in what is shaping up as a tightly contested Democratic primary election for governor.

The most recent campaign spending filings show that the Ige campaign’s spending outpaced Hanabusa’s by more than $200,000 in July. As of July 27, Ige’s campaign also had about $230,000 more cash on hand than Hanabusa did.

The latest spending data was released Wednesday. It comes as recent polls by both Civil Beat and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser indicate the sizable lead Hanabusa once enjoyed over the state’s incumbent governor has evaporated.

As the Aug. 11 primary election approaches, the Civil Beat poll released Tuesday showed Ige leading Hanabusa in his re-election bid by 9 percentage points

In recent weeks, Be Change Now’s anti-Ige “Thirty Eight Minutes” ad has hit the airwaves — a spot that slams the incumbent governor for his handling of the Jan. 13 false missile alert.

Ige also benefits from some super PAC support.

AiKea UNITE HERE, the super PAC for the health care industry, and Unite Here Local 5, the hospitality workers union, reported in separate filings this week that they’ve raised at least $175,000 since January for the primary election cycle, bringing their total campaign war chest to nearly $225,000.

The super PAC reported spending more than $200,000 of that to support Ige’s re-election.

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