September 19th, 2014

For voters looking at the shorthand for how Republicans will come after state Sen. David Ige and Democrats will go at former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona in the governor's race, we have a few words:


Furlough Fridays

The Republican Governors Association television spot this week linked Ige to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, as have several email blasts from the Hawaii Republican Party.

On Friday, local Republicans will release an infographic meant to help make their case that Ige is really no different than the unpopular governor he upset in the primary.

Democrats are preparing to hang the teacher furloughs Republican Gov. Linda Lingle supported to help the state get through the recession on Aiona.

Ige mentioned "Furlough Fridays" in a statement to Hawaii News Now this week on the RGA's ad.

Hawaii's primary election voters overwhelmingly agreed with me that we need a new direction for the next four years. The Ige administration will chart a fresh future and not go backwards to the failed 'Furlough Friday' policies of the Aiona-Lingle years.

`A person who listens to all sides'

September 18th, 2014

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has endorsed state Sen. David Ige, the Democratic candidate for governor.

The state's largest private-sector labor union, which represents about 18,000 workers in the islands, had endorsed Gov. Neil Abercrcombie over Ige in the primary.

The ILWU is one of several labor unions who have shifted toward Ige after the primary. Ige is facing former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a Republican, and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, an independent, in November.

From Donna Domingo, the president of ILWU Local 142:

He is a person who listens to all sides, makes good decisions, and gets work done. David often says that he will ‘do the right thing, the right way,’ and that is very important for the ILWU. We need government that not only does the right things, but also does them in the right way—competently, with fairness, and with real concern for people in our communities.


September 18th, 2014

Common Cause Hawaii and Public Citizen Hawaii have asked candidates for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House to take the "People's Pledge" and denounce independent political advertising by mainland groups.

The candidates could agree to make donations from campaign funds to charities selected by their opponents to atone for -- and potentially discourage -- the independent spending. In 2012, Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat who is now a U.S. senator, and then-U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican, agreed to a similar pledge during a Senate campaign in Massachusetts that had attracted national interest from super PACs and independent groups.

Good-government groups have celebrated such tactics as a voluntary response to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 that opened the door for unlimited political spending by corporations and labor unions as long as the groups do not coordinate with candidates.

But there is a perception in Hawaii that good-government groups are aligned with progressives -- and the announcement from Common Cause and Public Citizen about the "People's Pledge" re-inforced that perception.

The groups, as their only example, single out a television advertisement this week from the Republican Governors Association that attempts to tie state Sen. David Ige to unpopular Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who Ige drubbed in the Democratic primary. The independent ad is intended to help former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, the Republican.

Yet Common Cause and Public Citizen have not asked the candidates for governor to take the "People's Pledge," citing conflicts between state and federal campaign-finance laws.

The groups also did not urge federal candidates in Hawaii to take the pledge during the primary. In the Democratic primary between U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, for example, liberal mainland groups such as the League of Conservation Voters and EMILY's List sponsored independent ads for the candidates.

Several mainland progressive groups, including, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and Democracy for America, also did outreach in Hawaii on behalf of Schatz that attacked Hanabusa as a corporate-friendly threat to Social Security and other entitlement programs.

Warren herself sent out a fundraising appeal for Schatz to members of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee -- including some in Hawaii -- with Social Security as the theme.

Hanabusa complained that Schatz and his progressive allies unfairly distorted her record on Social Security and were trying to scare seniors.

Yet there was no denunciation by Common Cause Hawaii or other local good-government groups about the independent spending, which largely benefited Schatz, a progressive, who narrowly defeated Hanabusa.

Common Cause, however, swiftly condemned the RGA ad after it first aired this week.

"It's really responding to what we saw happen in the primary," said Carmille Lim, the executive director of Common Cause Hawaii. "We would have liked to launch something like this sooner, where it could have nipped things at the bud.

"But this is what we can do to raise awareness for any outside group trying to influence our election."


September 17th, 2014

Governing, which covers state and local governments, has moved the Hawaii governor's race to "tossup" from "lean Democratic."

Other national political analysts, however, have predicted that state Sen. David Ige, the Democrat, has the edge over former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, the Republican, and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, the independent.

While the projections may differ, one trend this year is clear: many national pundits, who often have little experience with Hawaii politics, have again bought into the "Hawaii is a notoriously difficult place to poll" narrative.

From Governing:

Hawaii: open seat, Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) defeated in primary (Shift from lean Democratic)

Hawaii’s gubernatorial race continues to mystify. In one of America’s bluest states, the incumbent Democrat was soundly defeated in a primary by state Sen. David Ige. Now Ige faces former Republican lieutenant governor James "Duke" Aiona and, running as an Independent, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hanemann. In one of the nation’s hardest states to poll, the figures are all over the map. Objectively, it’s hard to believe the Democrats would lose this race, but the three-way contest is so unsettled that we’re keeping it in the tossup category for now.

Super, too

September 16th, 2014

Here is a glimpse at independent political spending by state super PACs through the primary:

Forward Progress, a new political action committee led by John White, the executive director of Pacific Resource Partnership
Spent: $434,959
Cash on hand: $100
Major donors: Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program
Targets: The carpenters and contractors group helped Kaala Buenconsejo, a marketing director running for Maui County Council; Brandon Elefante, a council aide who ran for Honolulu City Council; Ron Gonzales, a restaurant manager running for Hawaii County Council; Tiffany Edwards Hunt, a journalist running for Hawaii County Council; and Maile David, a deputy county clerk who ran for Hawaii County Council. Elefante and David won outright in the primary. Buenconsejo, Gonzales and Hunt are in November runoffs.

Aikea, the political action committee for Unite Here! Local 5, the hotel workers union
Spent: $226,198
Cash on hand: $169,928
Major donors: Unite Here!
Targets: The labor group helped Joli Tokusato, a hotel lifeguard active with the union, against Honolulu City Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga. Tokusato failed to make the runoff.

Maui Timeshare Ohana Political Action Committee
Spent: $116,110
Cash on hand: $150,939
Major donors: The vacation owners associations of Ocean Resort Villas, part of The Westin hotel chain
Targets: The newly created group helped Kaala Buenconsejo, a marketing director running for Maui County Council. The group's chairman is listed as Grant David Gillham, a political consultant in Washington, D.C., and Reno, Nev. The group is using Tulchin Research, the California-based polling firm, and the Hamburger Company, the Washington, D.C.-based media consulting firm, that worked with PRP during the Honolulu mayor's race in 2012. Buenconsejo is in a runoff against Maui County Councilwoman Elle Cochran.

National Association of Realtors Fund, a Chicago-based political action committee for Realtors
Spent: $68,969
Cash on hand: $1.8 million
Major donors: National Association of Realtors
Targets: The group did outreach on behalf of state Sen. Malama Solomon; state Sen. Rosalyn Baker; state Rep. James Tokioka; and state Rep. Henry Aquino. Solomon lost to former state Sen. Lorraine Inouye in the Democratic primary. Baker, Tokioka and Aquino won their Democratic primaries.

Jobs and Opportunity for Hawaii, a political action committee of the Democratic Governors Association
Spent: $48,300
Cash on hand: $4,700
Major donors: Democratic Governors Association
Targets: Most of the spending was for polling and research.

Hawaii Center for Food Safety Action Fund, an anti-GMO advocacy group
Spent: $44,728
Cash on hand: $966
Major donors: Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap; Lavinia Currier, a wealthy philanthropist active with environmental causes
Targets: Sponsored mailers for state House candidates Robert Harris, the former Sierra Club Hawaii director; Dylan Hooser, the son of Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser; and state Senate candidate Lorraine Inouye. Harris and Hooser lost Democratic primaries. Inouye defeated Solomon in the Democratic primary.

Hawaii Family Advocates, an advocacy group for religious conservatives
Spent: $41,477
Cash on hand: $12,151
Major donors: Austin Imamura, a banker; Guo Z. Chen, self-employed
Targets: Sponsored mailers for state Rep. Sharon Har, a Democrat who opposed gay marriage; state House candidate Joan Hood, a religious conservative who opposed gay marriage; and against state Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who supported marriage equality. Har won the Democratic primary. Thielen defeated Hood in the Republican primary.

Workers for a Better Hawaii, the political action committee of the Hawaii Government Employees Association
Spent: $25,884
Cash on hand: $8,328
Major donors: Hawaii Government Employees Association
Targets: The public-sector union helped Honolulu City Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga; Aaron Chung, an attorney and former county councilman, who ran for Hawaii County Council; state Rep. Richard Creagan; state Rep. Nicole Lowen; and state Rep. Dee Morikawa. Fukunaga is in a runoff. Chung won outright in the primary. Creagan, Lowen and Morikawa won Democratic primaries.

Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council, an advocacy group for trade unions
Spent: $20,660
Cash on hand: $0
Major donors: Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council
Targets: The trade group helped Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who lost to state Sen. David Ige in the Democratic primary.

Sierra Club Hawaii PAC, the political action committee for the environmental group
Spent: $17,133
Cash on hand: $22,087
Major donors: Randy Ching, a retiree; Jeffrey Bronfman, an ecologist
Targets: Sponsored mailers for state House candidate Matt LoPresti; state House candidate Robert Harris, the group's former director; and state Senate candidate Terez Amato. LoPresti defeated state Rep. Rida Cabanilla in the Democratic primary. Harris and Amato lost Democratic primaries.

HIRA Action, the political action committee for the conservative Hawaii Republican Assembly
Spent: $15,927
Cash on hand: $9,626
Major donors: Mary Smart, a Realtor; Alexander Gaston, an investor
Targets: Most of the spending was for radio ads and events.