WASHINGTON — Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz continues to add to his bankroll in advance of the 2022 election although he has yet to draw a challenger.
According to the latest Federal Election Commission filings, Schatz’s campaign raised nearly $375,000 between April 1 and June 30 to help him win another six-year term in the U.S. Senate. That’s almost identical to what he raised in the first quarter.
So far this year, Hawaii’s senior senator has raised about $430,000 from individuals and another $325,000 from political action committees with interests in Congress.
“We’re very grateful for all the support we’ve had so far, and we are taking nothing for granted as we prepare to run for re-election,” the senator’s campaign said in a written statement. “We are energized by all our grassroots supporters from across Hawaii.”
A number of well-known lobbyists and political insiders — including Dan Inouye’s former chief of staff Jennifer Sabas and Denis Dwyer, whose firm represents the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation — have donated to the senator’s campaign.
His colleague U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono gave him $5,000 through a separate leadership committee called Pineapple PAC.
Schatz, a Democrat, also counts his former chief of staff, Andrew Winer, among his donors. Winer is now a lobbyist for Strategies 360, a firm that works both in Washington and Hawaii.
While several business interests have donated to Schatz’s campaign, including Facebook, Nike and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, he’s also received tens of thousands of dollars from Native American tribes from across the country. Schatz is currently the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
Schatz’s contributions stand in contrast to those of Hirono, who was elected to her current term in 2018 and won’t be on the ballot again until 2024, which is the year she turns 77.
Hirono has yet to formally announce her intentions moving forward, but her previous cancer diagnosis combined with her age led to questions about the future of her seat and whether it is the next likely battleground for up and coming Hawaii Democrats interested in legislating in the nation’s capital.
Republicans in general are noncompetitive in Hawaii politics. The last Republican to represent Hawaii in the U.S. Senate was Hiram Fong, who served from statehood in 1959 until he retired in January 1977.
A spokesperson for the senator said in a written statement that while Hirono has not officially announced for 2024, "she plans to run."
In general, Hirono’s fundraising figures have been unremarkable ever since her last election, with the campaign reporting contributions of less than $100,000 between Jan. 1 and June 30.
Among the more notable revelations in Hirono’s second-quarter filing is a reimbursement of $125,000 she loaned her campaign committee in 2006 and 2007. The repayment was by far one of her largest expenses of the year.
Hirono’s leadership PAC has been more active, according to Pineapple PAC’s latest six-month filing which covers the first half of 2021. In addition to Schatz, Hirono has been giving money to her Democratic colleagues in the Senate who face stiff competition in the upcoming 2022 election, including Raphael Warnock of Georgia, and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada.
If Democrats lose even one seat in 2022 that means Republicans will once again be in charge of the chamber.
In the House, Congressmen Ed Case and Kai Kahele have yet to draw a primary or general election challenger. So far, FEC records show Kahele has raised more money than Case and has more cash on hand for 2022 should he draw an opponent.
Almost all of Case’s contributions during the last quarter have come from PACs. Kahele, meanwhile, has raised money from a number of individual contributors, including Sabas and Winer, as well as other lobbyists.
According to his latest FEC report, Kahele raised nearly $106,000 in the second quarter with nearly two-thirds of that money coming from PACs associated with military contractors, such as BAE Systems and Honeywell International, the sugar industry and transportation.
Kahele, a pilot who flew for Hawaiian Airlines and the Hawaii Air National Guard, also receives significant contributions from the airline industry, including Hawaiian Airlines.
Both Case and Kahele are on the ballot in 2022.
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