Incumbents’ war chests much bigger

Incumbents are flexing their financial muscles in the Big Island state House and Senate races ahead of the primary election Saturday.


Incumbents are flexing their financial muscles in the Big Island state House and Senate races ahead of the primary election Saturday.

With a few exceptions, those running for re-election are outspending and out-fundraising their opponents by large margins.

Of the $417,926 spent in the races as of July 25, $304,047 came from those seeking another term in office.

Incumbents spending the most are Sen. Gil Kahele ($68,544), Sen. Malama Solomon ($68,087) and Sen. Josh Green ($49,631).

As is typical with incumbents, nearly all receive a flood of donations from individuals and political action committees. Most of the large contributions come from unions and other Hawaii-based groups or businesses.

Some mainland businesses and organizations also weigh in on the local races.

Altria Client Services and Rai Services Co., which both own tobacco companies, have made campaign contributions to at least one of the following candidates: Rep. Faye Hanohano, Rep. Cindy Evans, Rep. Richard Onishi, Kahele, Solomon and Rep. Clift Tsuji.

The American Beverage Association has donated $1,000 to Green and $500 to Onishi. Green, who is a physician and Health Committee chairman, also receives donations from medical companies and organizations.

Ormat Technologies, which runs Puna Geothermal Venture, has donated $200 to Kahele, while Innovations Development Group, a Hawaii-based geothermal company, has donated $250 to Rep. Mark Nakashima.

Kahele, Solomon and Tsuji have also received donations from biotech companies, including Syngenta, Dow Agrosciences and Monsanto.

At least one Big Island representative has made a contribution. Sen. Russell Ruderman, D-Puna, donated $110 to Nakashima and $200 to Lorraine Inouye, who is challenging Solomon.

Ruderman is not facing an election this year.

Kahele, who has raised $100,750, is facing a primary challenge from Wendell Kaehuaea. Kaehuaea had raised $1,311 and spent the same amount as of July 25.

Gregory Arianoff is running as a Libertarian in that race. He has raised $1,574 and spent $1,442.

Green remains the isle’s fundraising heavyweight. He has raised $217,280 this election period, and has a warchest of $483,550.

The 3rd District representative is not facing a Democratic challenger.

Michael Last, a Libertarian, is the only other candidate in that race. His campaign finances were not available.

Not all of the races are financial blowouts. Inouye may be giving Solomon a run for her money in the District 4 race.

Inouye, a former state senator and Hawaii County mayor, has raised $46,640 but has spent $53,140. She said she loaned her campaign about $30,000.

As a challenger, she said she has to spend money to get the attention of voters.

“We got to work extra hard,” Inouye said. “If I truly want to be a good candidate, which I believe I’m qualified, then we need to keep up.”

Groups donating to her campaign include the American Resort Development Association and labor unions. She has also received donations from several local businesses.

Alain Schiller, a Libertarian, is also running in that race. Schiller’s campaign finances were not available.

Kalei Akaka is also rivaling Rep. Nicole Lowen in campaign spending for the District 6 race.

Akaka, who has received donations from unions, has raised $24,885 and spent $17,183.

Lowen has raised $44,507 and spent $20,188.

Two Republicans are also running in that race, Roy Ebert and Kelly Valenzuela.

Ebert has not raised or spent any money, according to his financial disclosure form. Valenzuela has raised $14,270 and spent $8,726.

In the crowded House District 4 race, Democrat Joy Sanbuenaventura has been the most active with fundraising.

As of July 25, she has raised $18,666 and spent $12,679.

District 4 is represented by Democrat Faye Hanohano. Her campaign finances have not been updated for July.


As of June 30, she raised $4,320 and spent $3,434. There are five Democrats in that race and one Republican.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-

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