- Special Projects
Democratic Gov. David Ige has raised and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his re-election campaign, far outpacing his Republican opponent, state Rep. Andria Tupola.
The candidates’ latest campaign finance reports, filed late Monday, cover the period from Aug. 11 to Oct. 22.
Ige was buoyed by his incumbency and party affiliation, given Democratic dominance in Hawaii. But he also secured additional campaign funds from developers who had donated heavily to his Democratic primary opponent, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa.
Executives with the Kobayashi Group and The MacNaughton Group, which have developed billions of dollars worth of property in Hawaii, gave Hanabusa tens of thousands of dollars in late 2017 and early this year.
But after Hanabusa’s loss, the firms rallied behind Ige. Between the two firms, they gave the governor’s campaign a $34,000 infusion — with some employees hitting the individual limit of $6,000 apiece.
While polling has forecast an easy win for Ige, his campaign has taken nothing for granted. And after spending $2.5 million to make it through the primary, he had depleted much of his campaign war chest.
The money also buys the candidate’s attention. While those running for office deny the influence of campaign contributions, political experts have long pointed out how big donors work to curry favor.
Ige also received new donations from supporters of his running mate, state Sen. Josh Green, who was the top vote-getter in the primary as the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.
The Webb family, who live in the wealthy Black Point community in Honolulu, donated $24,000 to Green’s campaign before the primary.
Kevin Webb, CEO of Islands Hospice, donated $6,000, as did his wife Renee. Clayton and William Webb, students who live at the same address, also each donated the maximum $6,000 to Green.
Similarly, Green picked up new donations from major Ige supporters, including the Bowers + Kubota architecture firm in Honolulu.
The firm, which like MacNaughton and Kobayshi has government contracts that include work on the Honolulu rail project, delivered the biggest cash infusion to get Ige’s campaign off the ground late last year. Thirteen employees each donated the maximum $6,000, for a combined $78,000.
Green, for the first time, received donations Oct. 19 from two members of the firm, Brian Bowers and Dexter Kubota, totaling $2,000.
Green raised $114,267 since the primary, spending $43,253 during the same period. He had $137,330 on hand as of Oct. 22. Green spent $1 million to make it through a crowded Democratic primary.
His counterpart, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Marissa Kerns, raised $12,550 since the primary and spent $10,251. She had $5,715 on hand.
Ige, a former state senator, still has friends in the Legislature. While the top Senate and House leaders went all-in with Hanabusa in the primary, raising concerns about how successful he’d be during a second term as governor, a handful of lawmakers have donated to his campaign.
Rep. Kyle Yamashita gave $6,000, Rep. Mark Hashem gave $1,000 and former House Speaker Joe Souki donated $6,000. Souki resigned in March after admitting to sexual harassment.
Sens. Roz Baker and Russell Ruderman also each threw a few hundred bucks Ige’s way.
Many familiar names dot the list of Ige’s donors, including lobbyists, engineers and architects.
He also received $1,500 from Monsanto, a genetically modified seed company, and a mainland-based energy firm, Eurus Energy America, which donated $1,000. Edison Miyawaki, the Cincinnati Bengals co-owner, contributed $1,000.
Some businesspeople are playing both sides.
Albert Shigemura, PVT Land Company president, has given Ige and Tupola each the maximum contribution of $6,000.
Many of Tupola’s other large contributions came from business owners, doctors, lawyers and a GOP political action committee.
Scott Obara of United Tire & Recapping gave Tupola the max $6,000, as did Kauhikoa Land owner Peter Martin and Seattle billionaire developer Martin Selig.
She received $1,000 from Rose “Kitty” Simonds on Oct. 2. She’s the longtime executive director of the quasi-government Western Pacific Fishing Management Council.
The longline tuna industry, and Simonds’ husband John, had rallied behind Hanabusa in the primary.
None of the other major players in the industry changed their allegiance to Ige. He has supported initiatives they opposed, such as expanding Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and closing it off to commercial fishing.
Tupola and Ige spent their campaign cash primarily on political consultants and newspaper and TV advertising.
Their next reports are due one day before Election Day with the state Campaign Spending Commission on Nov. 5, covering the period of Oct. 23 to Nov. 2. The reports are available on the commission’s website.
Our small newsroom believes wholeheartedly that news and information is a public service – not something to be hidden behind paywalls or diluted by ads. Your donations ensure that our reporting remains free and accessible to all communities, regardless of a person’s ability to pay. For a limited time become a Civil Beat donor and we’ll throw in a limited-edition Civil Beat t-shirt!