Honolulu businesswoman Vicky Cayetano has resorted to mostly self-funding her campaign to try to stay competitive in the Democratic primary race for governor, loaning her own campaign an eye-popping $1.52 million so far.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green, meanwhile, raised more than $1.47 million from January to the end of June, and had spent $2.65 million on the race as of the end of last month, according to his latest report filed with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission on Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele’s report shows he raised $109,431 in the first half of this year, and has spent about $178,000 on the election so far.

HomeAid Hawaii Opens Doors at Kama’okū. Lt. Governor Josh Green speaks during opening ceremonies.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green has raised the most money so far in the gubernatorial Democratic primary. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Green is the apparent front-runner in the race. A Civil Beat/Hawaii News Now poll at the end of last month showed that if the election had been held then, Green would have won with 48% of the vote, while Kahele had 16% and Cayetano had 15%. Another 22% of the likely Democratic primary voters polled said they were still undecided ahead of the Aug. 13 balloting.

Green held 20 political fundraisers in the first half of this year, and has been by far the most effective at raising money to date. He had more than $629,000 in cash on hand as of June 30, while Cayetano had slightly more than $56,000 on hand. Kahele had about $40,450 in cash on hand.

Green is a physician who played a prominent role in the response to the coronavirus pandemic as part of Gov. David Ige’s administration. He has received dozens of donations from doctors both in Hawaii and on the mainland, including former Hawaii Director of Health Jack Lewin.

The most that a single donor is allowed to contribute to a candidate for governor is $6,000. People who maxed out their donations to Green this year include former state Attorney General Margery Bronster; longtime Honolulu lobbyist George Morris and his consultant Ross Yamasaki; and former First Hawaiian Bank executive Don Horner.

Also donating the maximum were Hawaii Pacific Health President Raymond Vara, CEO of Hualalai Resort Patrick Fitzgerald, Park Hotels and Resorts, Nathalie Moussallem of Dominos Pizza Hawaii, HMSA Administrator Jay Fujimoto, commercial real estate executive Stephen Metter, and Honolulu lawyers James Leavitt and Richard Turbin.

Green also got the maximum from unions including the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, the Hawaii State Teachers Association Political Action Committee, the ILWU Local 142 PAC, Operating Engineers Local No. 3, United Food and Commercial Workers Union (Local 480) and the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association PAC.

Vicky Cayetano speaks at a press conference held near Nuuanu Elementary School. Cayetano proposed her priorities of her campaign.
Gubernatorial candidate Vicky Cayetano reported spending more than $2.25 million so far but had to resort to self-funding as she was only able to raise $308,130 in private campaign donations. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Cayetano reported spending more than $2.25 million so far in her first bid for public office, but was only able to raise $308,130 in private campaign donations in the first six months of this year, according to a filing by her campaign on Thursday.

Contributors who maxed out for Cayetano included veteran lobbyist Robert Toyofuku, former state Supreme Court Associate Justice Simeon Acoba Jr., former state Director of Finance Earl Anzai and former administrator of The Queen’s Health Systems Arthur Ushijima.

Realtors May Tyrell and Jack Tyrell each gave the maximum contribution to Cayetano, as did real estate investor Michael Fergus, developer Everett Dowling, television host and producer Yue-Sai Kan in New York, financial and tax planner Janell Israel, Honolulu physician Angela Pratt, and Linda Lee, who is senior consultant at Aon Hewitt.

Kahele has pledged to accept no donations of more than $100 and had planned to finance his campaign in large part with public funding. However, he suffered a major campaign finance setback earlier this month when he failed to qualify for public financing for this election because he missed the deadline to file an affidavit promising to abide by spending limits.

Kahele’s initial filing on June 20 made it clear he is backed by much of the progressive wing of the Democrats at the Legislature, with donors who included Reps. Tina Wildberger, Chris Todd and Amy Perruso and Sen. Laura Acasio.

Kai Kahele announces running for Hawaii Governor at the Hilo Boys and Girls Club gymnasium.
U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele has pledged to accept no donations of more than $100 but suffered a setback earlier this month when he failed to qualify for public financing after missing a deadline. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

His small-donor supporters also included familiar names from the left wing of state and local politics such as Kyle Kajihiro, Will Caron, Shannon Rudolph, Bart Dame and former state Sen. Gary Hooser. Former state Democratic Party Chair Stephanie Ohigashi was also among his donors.

Kahele also drew support from some well-known environmental advocates including Marti Townsend, Nelson Ho, Josh Stanbro and David Henkin.

Green served in both the state House and state Senate representing the West side of the Big Island before being elected lieutenant governor in 2018.

Kahele is a Hawaiian Airlines pilot who was was elected in 2020 to Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District representing the neighbor islands and rural Oahu. Previously he was a state senator representing the Big Island. He also is a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaii Air National Guard and a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cayetano was president of United Laundry Services — the largest laundry company in the state — until she left that position in January to campaign full time. She became first lady of Hawaii in 1997 when she married Ben Cayetano, who was governor until 2002.

An analysis by the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission staff showed more than 27% of the contributions larger than $100 that Green’s campaign received during the election period though of the end of last year were from out of state. About 9% of Cayetano’s donations of more than $100 for the same period were from out of state, and none of Kahele’s donations were.

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