Lingle adds $1.2M to campaign
By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer
By Derrick DePledge
Gov. Linda Lingle raised more than $1.2 million for her re-election campaign during the last six months of 2005, pushing her fundraising closer to her goal of $6 million.
The Republican governor now has $3.2 million in cash for her campaign and has already spent $2 million, which puts the campaign over $5 million in total receipts in the past few years. Randall Iwase, a former state senator who announced his candidacy in the Democratic primary for governor on Friday, has just started to raise money but has conceded he will not come close to Lingle in fundraising.
Lingle held several Mainland fundraisers before the end of the year in New York, Philadelphia, Houston and Los Angeles. A new state campaign-finance law that took effect in January limits out-of-state contributions to no more than 20 percent of donations during each campaign reporting period.
Miriam Hellreich, Lingle's campaign finance director, said the governor plans to continue her fundraising but does not have any Mainland events on her calendar. In February, a Lingle fundraising reception is scheduled with national GOP chairman Ken Mehlman before the Lincoln Day dinner for Hawai'i Republicans at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
"We have to communicate our message to people throughout the state and it's very expensive, unfortunately," Hellreich said. "It requires generous support from Hawai'i and Mainland donors to be able to do this. It's all about message."
Democrats in the state Legislature wrote the campaign-finance law in part to handcuff Lingle's ability to raise money from the Mainland. Lingle raised more money than former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono during her 2002 victory, with about 20 percent coming from the Mainland.
Democrats have conceded they cannot compete with Lingle in fundraising this year and have instead tried to make her campaign money a political issue.
"The governor needs to raise less money and raise more ideas to help Hawai'i's people who struggle to make a living," said Tom Brower, communications director for the Democratic Party of Hawai'i. "Her fundraising helps no one but herself. A better leader would focus more on raising issues, not money."
According to a report filed yesterday with the state Campaign Spending Commission, Lingle only spent about $254,000 on her campaign over the last six months of 2005, leaving her with a healthy cash balance to prepare for the election. Hellreich said future fundraising decisions will be based on political strategy as the campaign gets closer to the primaries in September and the general election in November.
Iwase, who believes Lingle should return any donations from last year that would have been prohibited under the new law, said he has raised about $700 and has set no fundraising target.
"I don't want $6 million, even if I could raise it," Iwase said. "I think that's obscene. And I think it's just as obscene that you would go to the Mainland and raise tons of money after you've signed into law a bill that prohibits that conduct."
Reach Derrick DePledge at firstname.lastname@example.org.