By BJ Reyes
VoteVets, the political group that works to get veterans elected to public office and played a key role in helping elevate the name recognition of Tulsi Gabbard two years ago, is back in Hawaii with a new television ad in support of state Rep. Mark Takai in his bid for Congress.
The group on Tuesday announced it was making a $100,000 independent expenditure in support of Takai.
Funds are being put toward air time and a 30-second TV spot that highlights Hawaii's record of service to America, including the famed 442nd Infantry Regiment, and Takai's work to get veterans much-needed health care. The ad:
Takai, a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaii Army National Guard, has served in the state House since first winning election in 1994. He is foregoing re-election to that seat in 2014 in a bid for the 1st Congressional District, representing urban Oahu.
Others in the race include: State Sens. Donna Mercado Kim and Will Espero, City Councilmen Ikaika Anderson, Stanley Chang and Joey Manahan, and human rights advocate Kathryn Xian. The winner is likely to face Republican and former congressman Charles Djou in November.
Based in Washington, D.C., VoteVets had a significant presence during the 2012 2nd Congressional District Campaign. The group spent $317,000 in air time and ads supporting Gabbard, then a first-term Honolulu City Councilwoman, who was badly trailing former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann at the outset of the race but came back to win the Democratic primary.
By law, an independent expenditure may not be coordinated with a campaign, but can focus on issues that benefit a candidate.
Founded in 2006, VoteVets is backed by over 400,000 supporters. While non-partisan, the group is the largest progressive organization of veterans in America.