UPDATED 8/1/2012 5:45 p.m.
Ben Cayetano‘s big lead in the money department is dissipating.
With many contributors maxing out during the first half of the year, the former governor raised just $58,000 between July 1 and July 27. That’s less than the $274,000 Kirk Caldwell raised — including a $50,000 personal loan to his campaign — and $101,000 Peter Carlisle collected in the same period, according to reports filed Wednesday with the Campaign Spending Commission.
“We are very happy with the support that we continue to receive and this shows that we are finishing strong,” Caldwell said in a statement from his campaign.
“We are very pleased with the support that has been shown to Mayor Carlisle,” Carlisle Campaign Manager Nani Medeiros said in an email. “As voters hear about his record of accomplishments, financial responsibility, transparency in government, innovative approaches, empowering employees, and how he has kept politics out of city hall they grow increasingly supportive. We are confident that we have the resources needed to communicate these accomplishments loudly and clearly before election day.”
Cayetano has raised $951,000 since the campaign began, compared to $875,000 for Caldwell and $662,000 for Carlisle.
Caldwell and Carlisle narrowed the fundraising gap after Cayetano had a huge edge over the incumbent mayor the last time we saw numbers just weeks ago. Between Jan. 1 and June 30, Cayetano raised $893,000 to $511,000 for Caldwell and $198,000 for Carlisle.
In the first half of the year, Cayetano received the maximum donation from 112 different individuals or groups — far more than his opponents. In July, just one group donated the max — the Nebraska-based HDR Inc. Political Action Committee. One other person — Video Vend/American Coin President Denny Miyasato — gave enough to bring his total for the cycle up to the max.
Nineteen individual or companies gave Caldwell the maximum contribution or brought their aggregate up to the max in July, and nine did the same for Carlisle. Carlisle himself was one of them, as was James Campbell Co. executive Richard Dahl (who also gave $1,000 to Caldwell) and Seafood Village Restaurant President Alan Ho.
Caldwell’s donors include some former colleagues in the Hawaii House of Representatives: Isaac Choy, Kyle Yamashita, Marilyn Lee, Marcus Oshiro, Ryan Yamane, Jimmy Tokioka, Ken Ito and Speaker Calvin Say. And then there’s the $50,000 personal loan. He already owed himself $188,000 from his failed 2010 run for mayor.
Despite the mild advantage in fundraising and less spending in the month, Caldwell and Carlisle still have smaller war chests than Cayetano.
Caldwell spent $240,000 in the period, leaving him with $133,000 cash on hand. Nearly 90 percent of the money he spent in July — $210,000 — was with Laird Christianson Advertising for media and production costs.
Carlisle spent $229,000 in the period, leaving him with $118,000 cash on hand. Many of the expenditures were for television advertising, and about $40,000 was for survey and research consulting with Global Strategy Group, a New York company.
True to his word, Cayetano spent more than half of his stack in the four-week period, expending $356,000 on things like television and radio advertising. Cayetano had $316,000 in the bank two weeks before the Aug. 11 primary — still more than his two opponents combined.
“We’re shooting the works because we know that the general would be a tough race, so we’re shooting the works. It’ll depend on so many things and the turnout will be a big, big factor for us,” Cayetano said of his strategy Wednesday.
It’s a risky strategy, considering Cayetano can’t ask for any more money from many of his supporters and polls show he could well be facing a runoff.
The Civil Beat Poll in June pegged Cayetano at 44 percent versus 23 percent for Caldwell and 21 percent for Carlisle. He would need 50 percent (plus one vote) to win the race outright and avoid a November runoff. In July, Hawaii News Now and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser polled the race at 44 percent for Cayetano, 27 percent for Carlisle and 25 percent for Caldwell.
Asked if he’ll need to look for new support if a runoff becomes a reality, Cayetano said small donations of $10, $15 and $20 apiece will be an important factor.
“Going into the general … my people are maxed out and I’m going to have to find new support,” he said. He’s trying to squeeze the most he can out of his money by creating memorable television advertisements he says are worth far more than other forgettable spots.
Beyond Carlisle and Caldwell, Cayetano’s also facing strong opposition from the Pacific Resource Partnership, a pro-rail group that spent more than $1 million in the first seven months of the year on political activities.
“My opponents were not only these two guys. My opponents were PRP, Move Oahu Forward and all the other groups, the labor unions and all. Those are my opponents,” Cayetano said. “I think we raised $950,000. They’ve already spent that much money on me.”
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