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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 14, 2006

Hirono has raised almost $300,000 for race

By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer

Mazie Hirono

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Former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono has raised nearly $300,000 for her expected Democratic primary campaign for a U.S. House seat, including a $100,000 personal loan, giving her an early financial advantage over the other Democrats vying to replace U.S. Rep. Ed Case.

Hirono, who has not formally announced her candidacy, released portions of her federal campaign finance report yesterday to show her fundraising strength.

"I was very gratified and touched by the positive response of so many people who wanted to help me win this race," Hirono said in a statement.

Campaign finance reports for the first quarter of the year are not due at the Federal Election Commission until tomorrow. But other Democrats running for the primary, after hearing about Hirono's move, shared their fundraising totals.

State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, D-21st (Nanakuli, Makaha), said she has raised about $110,000. State Sen. Gary Hooser, D-7th (Kaua'i, Ni'ihau), said he has collected just under $100,000, including a $50,000 personal loan. State Rep. Brian Schatz, D-25th (Makiki, Tantalus), has raised $76,000, including a $10,000 personal loan. State Sen. Ron Menor, D-17th (Mililani, Waipi'o), and former state Sen. Matt Matsunaga, said they have not yet started to collect money.

Hirono, who lost the governor's race in 2002 to Republican Linda Lingle, likely has the highest statewide name recognition among the possible candidates. Soaking up money early might help Hirono gain a foothold with political donors before the 2nd Congressional District campaign turns more frenetic after the session of the state Legislature ends in May.

Democrats are likely to have to compete more aggressively for money this year. The marquee race, Case against U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, will likely be expensive and make it more difficult for Democrats running for Congress and governor to raise money.

"I think Mazie has an advantage right now because she is not in office," said Hanabusa, who, like Hirono, has not formally filed papers to run. "I think you're going to see the others start concentrating on it once the session is over."

Hooser said he is counting on smaller donations from people who live in the district, which covers Central, Leeward and Windward O'ahu and the Neighbor Islands. "Even though raising money is obviously important, I don't believe the amount of money raised is going to be the deciding factor in this race," he said. "It's going to be the person who works the hardest and connects with the people."

Schatz, who has been sign-waving on O'ahu and has made campaign trips to the Neighbor Islands, said he was pleased with his campaign's progress. "Our campaign has been gaining over the past several weeks," he said. "We're excited."

Menor and Matsunaga said they each hope to raise at least $500,000 for their campaigns. Menor has been focused on the session at the Legislature, while Matsunaga only officially announced his campaign this week. "I've been out there shaking the bushes, just like everybody else," Matsunaga said.

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.