In one of the most watched political races this year, House Speaker Scott Saiki has a substantial financial lead over challenger Kim Coco Iwamoto, campaign finance reports filed Thursday show.

Each hopes to represent House District 25, encompassing Ala Moana, Kakaako and downtown Honolulu. Iwamoto came close to unseating Saiki two years ago, and Saiki is collecting much more in campaign contributions than he did in 2020.  

In the most recent reporting period, which covers campaign activity from Jan. 1 through June 30, Saiki raised $118,126, bringing his total raised for this election cycle to $255,718. More than $230,000 of that total was rolled over from his previous election. Saiki reported spending just under $100,000 this reporting period, leaving him with about $254,000 in the bank.

Iwamoto’s  fundraising fell far short of her opponent’s, bringing in about $36,000 this reporting period. She also reported $50,000 in loans. She reported spending about $75,000 since Jan. 1 leaving her with about $17,000 cash on hand.

Aerial view of Ala Moana Beach Park, Magic Island and right, Ala Wai Boat Harbor.
Scott Saiki and Kim Coco Iwamoto are competing to represent District 25, which includes Ala Moana, Kakaako, and downtown Honolulu, in the state House of Representatives. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Donors vary greatly between the candidates. Saiki took in thousands of dollars this reporting period from the political actions committees for a number of unions and business foundations including HMSA and Island Insurance Co.

The longtime lawmaker and legislative leader’s list of individual donors includes many well-known lawyers, business, civic and political leaders: former Hawaiian Electric executive Constance Lau, prominent lobbyists Bruce Coppa and Blake Oshiro, HMSA CEO Mark Mugiishi, First Hawaiian Bank CEO Robert Harrison, Central Pacific Bank CEO Paul Yonamine, and Matson chairman Walter Dods Jr., among many others.

At least six top executives from Alexander and Baldwin donated $1,000 each. People listed as attorneys donated $12,750, and partners at the law firm Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks donated $5,000. 

Iwamoto received a notable amount of small donations under $100, raking in $9,449 while Saiki received only $625 in small donors.  

United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 480 was one of only a few donors who contributed the maximum $2,000 amount to Iwamoto, along with the ironworkers’ local union chapter, and Friends of Tina Wildberger, who represents South Maui’s House District 11. 

Iwamoto’s donor list includes prominent attorneys, business and community leaders and people who are active in the nonprofit sector.

Both candidates prioritized advertising and postage over the past six months. Saiki spent more than $40,000 on advertising and about $31,000 on postage. Iwamoto spent $16,619 on advertising and more than $25,000 on postage. Saiki also spent $2,632 on polling and voter lists.

The next campaign finance reports are due Aug. 3 and will cover the period spanning July 1 through July 29. 

Support Civil Beat during the season of giving.

As a small nonprofit newsroom, our mission is powered by readers like you. But did you know that less than 1% of readers donate to Civil Beat?

Give today and support local journalism that helps to inform, empower and connect.

About the Author