WASHINGTON — Former state Sen. Jill Tokuda has raised more money than her top Democratic challenger in the race for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District by a 3-to-1 margin, according to the new quarterly filings from the Federal Election Commission.

Tokuda reported raising just over $415,000 between April 1 and June 30. She also loaned her campaign $25,000 of her own money.

Polls have shown Tokuda is the frontrunner to replace U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele in CD2, which covers rural Oahu and the neighbor islands.

State Rep. Patrick Branco, who trailed Tokuda by 25 points in a recent Civil Beat/Hawaii News Now poll, has reported raising $127,000 for his campaign.

Sen Jill Tokuda speech before session adjourned. 4 may 2017
Former state Sen. Jill Tokuda, seen here in 2017, is leading the money race in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2017

Tokuda’s donor list includes some of the most recognizable names in Hawaii business and politics.

Among the top contributors is Jennifer Sabas, a lobbyist who once served as chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, who died in 2012. Tokuda and Sabas have worked closely together over the years, including in 2015 when Sabas’ consulting firm, Kaimana Hila, was one of her clients.

The late senator’s close confidant and campaign adviser, Walter Dods, also gave thousands of dollars to Tokuda’s campaign. Dods has served as chairman of some of Hawaii’s most iconic and powerful businesses, including Matson, First Hawaiian Bank and Alexander & Baldwin.

Tokuda received major donations from well known lawyers Paul Alston, William McCorriston and Bill Kaneko, who was former Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s campaign manager, as well as from major island developers, such as Jeffrey Stone, Everett Dowling and Bert Kobayashi.

More than two dozen Matson executives and employees, including CEO and chairman Matthew Cox, donated $23,000 to Tokuda’s campaign.

She also received a boost from U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, a close friend and political ally. Hirono’s Pineapple PAC donated $5,000 to Tokuda’s campaign. The senator also formed a joint fundraising committee with Tokuda — called the Hirono Tokuda Victory Fund — that so far has reported raising nearly $18,000.

Other outside spending groups that have donated to Tokuda include Emily’s List, which backs pro-choice women for office, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Medicare for All PAC.

Branco received more than $92,000 from individual donors, including from foreign services officers and diplomats working for the State Department. Branco is a former diplomat.

A number of lobbyists in Washington and Hawaii donated to Branco’s campaign, including Bruce Coppa and Blake Oshiro.

The political action committees for Matson and Alexander & Baldwin both contributed to Branco’s bid for Congress as have the leadership PACs of a number of federal legislators affiliated with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The caucus and several of its members have endorsed Branco, who is Latino and Native Hawaiian.

Branco, who is openly gay, has also received $5,000 from Equality PAC, the campaign arm of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus.

State Rep. Patrick Branco is an underdog in the race for CD2, but is getting significant help from a super PAC linked to the cryptocurrency industry. Patrick Branco for Congress

Even though Branco trails Tokuda in fundraising, he is getting significant help from a super PAC, Web3 Forward, that’s affiliated with the cryptocurrency industry. It has launched a $250,000 ad campaign on his behalf.

Branco introduced legislation earlier this year that would make it easier for people to trade cryptocurrency in Hawaii and supported other measures that would help the industry flourish in the islands, including one that will establish a digital currency task force to expand the use of blockchain technology in the state.

Branco has said he is not coordinating with Web3 Forward, which would be a violation of campaign spending law. He has, however, posted materials on his campaign website, such as talking points, images and video, that outside spending groups can freely use to back his candidacy.

Alcubilla Struggles To Keep Up With Case

In the race for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District, which covers urban Oahu, U.S. Rep. Ed Case continues to out-raise and out-spend Sergio Alcubilla in his bid for re-election.

According to Case’s latest FEC filings, his campaign received nearly $102,000 in political contributions in the second quarter of the year, most of which came from PACs and special interest groups. Several of those represent military contractors, such as BAE Systems and Booz Allen Hamilton, that work in Hawaii.

He also received donations from other corporate PACs, including those representing Bank of America, Amazon and McDonald’s.

Case received several contributions from Washington-based lobbyists, including those representing the cybersecurity industry, Native American economic development interests and defense contractors. His former chief of staff, Esther Kiaaina, a member of the Honolulu City Council, also donated to his campaign.

Hawaii Congressman Ed Case is far outpacing his Democratic opponent in terms of fundraising. Courtesy: Governor's Office

Case reported spending nearly $350,000 between April 1 and June 30, with $300,000 of that going to Olomana Loomis for advertising.

Alcubilla, on the other hand, reported spending less than $14,000 during the second quarter. Much of that money went to paying for consulting fees for everything from communications to fundraising.

The campaign reported that it still had $26,500 in cash on hand at the end of June whereas Case’s campaign still had nearly $475,000 left in the bank.

Alcubilla, a public interest lawyer and first-time candidate, is a considerable underdog in the primary. A recent Civil Beat/Hawaii News Now poll shows Case has a commanding 65% to 8% lead.

Alcubilla reported raising just under $31,000 from April 1 to June 30, bringing his total contributions this election cycle to just over $107,000. Case’s total during the cycle so far is about $825,000.

Alcubilla’s largest single donor over the past three months was Amy Agbayani, an immigrant rights advocate and emeritus vice chancellor of student diversity and equity at the University of Hawaii Manoa, who gave Alcubilla’s campaign $1,000. He credits Agbayani for convincing him to run for Congress.

Alcubilla has received outside support from Our Hawaii Action, a newly formed political action committee that backs progressive candidates who have sworn off corporate donors.

Our Hawaii Action, a new super PAC, is running ads on behalf of Sergio Alcubilla in CD1. Screenshot/2022

Our Hawaii Action announced this week in a press release that it has spent more than $100,000 on advertisements, mailers and other electoral activities to support its endorsed candidates, which include Alcubilla and U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, who is running for governor.

Last year, the group launched a six-figure ad campaign targeting Case over his adverse position to President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which included provisions to cut child poverty, reduce the impacts of climate change and build more affordable housing while at the same time taxing the rich.

Our Hawaii Action plans to air a new ad this week attacking Case for his stance on Build Back Better and encouraging voters to pick Alcubilla to represent CD1 in the August primary.

Schatz Rakes It In, While GOP Struggles

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz is on the ballot this year, but is not expected to face a significant challenge to reelection in either the primary or general election.

Still, Schatz has continued to pump huge sums of money into his campaign account, which as of June 30 still had a balance of more than $3.9 million.

Schatz’s campaign reported total receipts of almost $360,000 in the second quarter, more than any other federal candidate on the Hawaii ballot this year with the exception of Tokuda.

Senator Brian Schatz gestures during a field hearing held at the East West Center Auditorium.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz has a nearly $4 million war chest despite facing little competition. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

A little more than half of that money, about $186,000 came from special interest groups and PACs, some of which have ties to the islands, including those with ties to Alexander & Baldwin, Hawaiian Airlines and First Hawaiian Bank. Schatz also received money from the Hawaii Optometric PAC.

A handful of Schatz’s senatorial colleagues, including Democrats Mark Kelly of Arizona and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut gave to Schatz’s campaign.

He also received money from PACs representing the aviation and railway industries as well as from those working in the defense sector.

Only a handful of Republican candidates have reported raising any money in their bids for Congress. The GOP has traditionally struggled to gain any traction in Hawaii politics, especially at the federal level.

Schatz’s most recognizable opponent on the Republican side of the ballot is state Rep. Bob McDermott, who has yet to report raising or spending any money on his campaign because he has not yet met the minimum $5,000 threshold to do so.

Tim Dalhouse, a military veteran and businessman, who is also running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, has reported raising more than $52,000, but most of that was a loan to himself.

The top Republican fundraiser in CD1 is Conrad Kress, a former Navy SEAL who says in his Twitter bio that he’s “ready to dismantle power structures.”

Kress’s campaign so far has reported raising a total of $41,000 during the election cycle.

In CD2, Big Island tour operator Joe Webster loaned his campaign $60,000, but has reported little else in terms of donations.

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