During the primary election for Honolulu prosecutor, Steve Alm did not buy airtime to run television advertisements on the main network affiliates.

The former prosecutor, retired judge and probation advocate may have figured he didn’t need to build much name recognition in a field where he was easily the most well-known candidate.

That left former deputy prosecutor Megan Kau and public defender Jacquie Esser to air dueling ads. Kau edged Esser in the Aug. 8 primary 21% to 17% and now faces Alm (who took 35% of the vote in a race that featured three other candidates) in the Nov. 3 general election.

Kau, who trails Alm in campaign fundraising, has thus far purchased no new ad time while Alm has aired his first non-social media spot.

He is spending more than $80,000 to run it on local news on KGMB, KHON and KITV. The ads began airing Monday — the same day that mail-in ballots first began turning up in Oahu homes and mailboxes.

Watch the 30-second ad, titled “Trust”:

Anyone who pays even scant attention to the prosecutor’s office knows that it is heavily tainted by the fact that incumbent Keith Kaneshiro is on paid leave because he’s under federal investigation.

That’s why a line like this from Alm’s ad will resonate with many: “Who can we trust to clean up the prosecutor’s office and to make Honolulu safer?”

“Trust” touts Alm’s “over 30 years” of experience, which includes, says a narrator, leading “a team of prosecutors.”

There he is with his wife, Haunani, on one side and State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers President Malcolm Lutu on his other, when he announced his candidacy.

There he is with two kupuna, presumably assuring them that they will be safe under his watch.

And there he is wearing his judge’s robe, several times, administering justice. It all amounts to a commanding performance that raises the competitive bar high for Kau.

Alm’s ads are scheduled to run through Nov. 1, the Sunday before the Tuesday election.

The Latest In Mayoral Race

Keith Amemiya, the former litigator, business and nonprofit executive, gets a glowing endorsement in his campaign’s latest TV commercial from none other than his wife, Bonny.

The 30-second clip, titled “Bonny Gets Personal,” is a lovely montage of vintage and current photos and videos from their 24 years together.

Watch the clip:

“He’s humble, he’s caring, and he’ll make a real difference,” Bonny Amemiya concludes. It’s a solid pitch.

So is the latest from Rick Blangiardi, the former sports figure and TV executive now running against Amemiya to be mayor of Honolulu.

Watch the 30-second ad, titled “Women For Rick”:

“When he says that this is his home, and he has a heart for this community, I believe him whole-heartedly,” says Ann Botticelli, the former journalist and Hawaiian Airlines executive, who is one of several well-known figures in the clip.

It pairs well with a Women for Rick tab on his campaign website, that features many of these same women and others, some familiar — e.g., former first lady Vicky Cayetano — and some less so.

For Amemiya, his latest TV ad is a departure from recent ads playing up his Democratic Party credentials and suggesting that Blangiardi is not sufficiently local.

For Blangiardi, his latest TV ad is a departure from most of his previous ads that have featured just the candidate talking to the camera.

These ads come as the Be Change Now super PAC affiliated with the local carpenters union (but not formally with the Blangiardi campaign, per law) has a new ad out stating that Blangiardi cares for Honolulu families.

The new ads also come as the Amemiya campaign is shopping around a 53-second YouTube video pitched as “Rick Blangiardi has flip flopped on rail but refuses to be held accountable.”

I suspect that the Be Change Now ad will be seen by far more people than the YouTube clip, as it is backed by tens of thousands of dollars spent on local TV broadcasts.

But both of the clips underscore the rising importance of the Honolulu rail project in the campaign, which up to now has been dominated by the pandemic.

It’s an issue where Amemiya and Blangiardi share the same goal of completing the project.

But it is also an issue that has evolved dramatically in recent weeks as Mayor Kirk Caldwell has rejected the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s public-private partnership plan to get that work done.

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