You may have seen some unsolicited text messages recently that start something like this: “Are you done with corrupt politicians like Josh Green?”

Or another that goes: “Shutting down Native Hawaiians: Josh Green did the unthinkable.”

The texts link to videos of remarks Green made at a college graduation ceremony and at a Civil Beat event. Articles that accompany the videos paint him as being disrespectful to Hawaii residents, but Green maintains that the video clips are taken out of context.

The text messages and the website they link to are part of a campaign by a new super PAC called Hawaii Conservatives, created by first-time GOP candidate Tim Dalhouse and longtime conservative strategist Joel Borgquist, who has worked on campaigns in Virginia and Hawaii.

A new conservative super PAC is running a text message campaign opposing Josh Green. Screenshot

Dalhouse ran for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Brian Schatz but lost to challenger Bob McDermott, a state representative. Dalhouse, who owns a project management company, has so far spent more than $30,000 of his own funds to bankroll the new political action committee.

Dalhouse feels that some Democrats have gotten complacent after rarely facing tough opponents. He said he wanted the super PAC to provide resources to new Republican candidates after seeing how difficult running a campaign can be.

He and Borgquist say they want to bring “professionalism” to GOP races. The group has so far spent about $8,800 to support House candidates Janie Gueso and Elijah Pierick. The PAC is also opposing incumbent Democratic Reps. Sharon Har and Matt LoPresti, who were both charged in the last two years with drunken driving. Both have since been acquitted of those charges.

Targeting Green

Although most of the super PAC’s work has focused on legislative candidates, its widest reaching ad — a direct text campaign — aims to give Republican gubernatorial nominee Duke Aiona a lift by going after his Democratic opponent.

One video clip shows Green at a graduation ceremony in Pennsylvania.

“I speak in front of an entire state all the time, it is much more nerve-wracking to speak in front of brilliant people like you,” Green says in the clip, before it quickly cuts to a second part of his speech where he says that the lieutenant governor’s office is “basically useless, and that is true. But I tried to make the most of it.”

As he speaks, the words “Doesn’t respect us” and “Doesn’t respect the office” appear across the screen.

Aiona brought up the speech at a recent KHON2 debate. Green said he was nervous speaking in front of a crowd of college graduates and some of his old professors because typically he speaks in front of TV cameras. He said he is proud of Hawaii graduates.

“When those comments are taken out of context and cut up into pieces, I think people see through that,” Green said.

Honolulu Civil Beat's Know your candidate with gubernatorial candidate Josh Green.
The text message ads link to video clips of Green at various forums. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Another clip from a Civil Beat event shows Aiona saying that he has “deep roots” in this state and that he is keiki o ka aina, or a child of the land. He goes on to talk about his experience speaking with protesters in Waipio Valley.

Green responded, saying “It’s offensive when he plays a card that he’s local and therefore more connected to people.”

The clip ends before Green explains that he came to Hawaii first as a doctor to work in rural communities that lacked access to health care.

Taken together, Borgquist said he felt Green’s comments “downplayed the quality of Hawaii’s people.”

The clips were shortened, Borgquist said, because most people may not watch more than 30 seconds of a video. He said that the group links to the entire clip of the graduation speech and the whole video of the Civil Beat forum and that the articles on the PAC website that accompany both videos provide more context.

Campaign finance records show the PAC contracted with a company called Campaign Sidekick, a direct contact phone app whose website says it is a preferred GOP vendor. The app pulls information from registration and voter rolls and is used in Republican campaigns in states including Arizona and Georgia, TechCrunch reported.

New PAC On The Block

Attack ads have not been effective so far this election season. Ironically, Borgquist agrees that most attack ads are ineffective. He pointed to an earlier ad campaign that ran saying that Green is not board certified as an emergency medicine doctor.

He wrote a post on the PAC’s website arguing that tactics like mudslinging are ineffective but others like comparing two candidates or calling out opponents are more effective.

Dalhouse and Borgquist started the super PAC because they said they felt their voices weren’t being heard and that there was a disconnect between the government and broader community, echoing the sentiments of many GOP candidates in Hawaii this year.

Dalhouse recalled canvassing for votes earlier this year and finding people who said they wouldn’t bother voting.

Dalhouse has spent more than $30,000 of his own money on the PAC. Screenshot

“They feel beaten,” he said, adding that residents told him they feel their vote doesn’t matter “because the machine that’s in place here in Hawaii government and politics is so strong.”

They saw other super PACs that are affiliated with major industries or progressive organizations, but few that advocated for conservatives. They say they wanted a super PAC that wasn’t funded by a corporation, labor union or a 501c(4) dark money organization. Borgquist said he wanted the PAC to be transparent about where it’s money comes from.

The super PAC is not connected with the local Republican Party, he said. The PAC relies almost entirely on donations from Dalhouse.

Hawaii Conservatives reported having $32,800 on hand as of Sept. 26. Four Honolulu residents have combined to give the PAC about $2,100. The rest of the PAC’s money came from Dalhouse.

“When I decide that I want to get involved in something, I want to go all in,” Dalhouse said. “We’re going big or we’re going home.”

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