Djou surges in fundraising
By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer
Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou has seized the fundraising advantage in the special election for Congress, and likely has more cash available for the final two weeks of the campaign than congressman Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.
Djou's fundraising surge may allow him to dominate in television ads and help him maintain his lead in public and private polls for the winner-take-all vote in urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced yesterday that it will halt television ads in Hawai'i, ceding the airwaves and, unless other Democratic groups step up, leaving Case and Hanabusa on their own to counter the Republican Djou.
Djou raised $525,150 in April and had $362,700 in cash at the start of May, according to federal campaign finance reports. He has raised $1.2 million overall.
Hanabusa pulled in $349,000 in April. Her cash on hand was not immediately available last night. She has collected more than $1 million in total.
Case raised $287,400 in April and had $153,500 in cash left in his account. He has raised about $680,000 overall.
"The outpouring of support we have received from our donors has been tremendous and reinforces the fact that our message of lowering the tax burden, creating jobs and holding the line on government spending is the conversation voters want to have," Djou said in a statement.
The DCCC spent about $314,000 on campaign ads and outreach against Djou in Hawai'i but has been frustrated by polls that show Case and Hanabusa splitting the Democratic vote.
Within the past few weeks, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawai'i, gave another $50,000 of his campaign money to the DCCC for possible use against Djou, sources close to Inouye and the DCCC said. Inouye, who has endorsed Hanabusa, had initially given $100,000.
"Local Democrats were unable to work out their differences," Jennifer Crider, a DCCC spokeswoman, said in a statement. "The DCCC will save the resources we would have invested in the Hawai'i special election this month for the general election in November."
Staff with the Democratic National Committee and Organizing for America, a grassroots network that grew out of President Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, will continue to provide voter education and get-out-the-vote efforts for the special election.
The DNC has also been posting videos critical of Djou on the Internet.
Dante Carpenter, the interim chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawai'i, had written to national Democrats last week complaining about leaks that suggested national Democrats favor Case over Hanabusa.
Carpenter questioned whether the DCCC ads against Djou were effective, a sentiment shared privately by the Case and Hanabusa campaigns.
Republicans celebrated the DCCC's retreat as a sign of Djou's strength. A new poll released yesterday by Honolulu Civil Beat, a local news and opinion website, found Djou with a substantial lead — 39.5 percent — and Case and Hanabusa splitting the Democratic vote at 25.5 percent each. About 10 percent were undecided.
The automated telephone poll, by the Merriman River Group of Massachusetts, was taken among 1,081 likely voters last Thursday and Friday. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.
Similar patterns were found in the Hawai'i Poll and a private poll taken for the DNC, which influenced the DCCC's decision to walk away.
"National Democrats' decision to meddle in local politics and pick sides not only failed, but also brought to light additional rifts within a party already in disarray," Joanna Burgos, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement. "The DCCC is giving up in a district as blue as this one due to their own blunders and a fed-up constituency that rejected their reckless agenda of higher taxes, negligent spending and government takeovers."
Jonah Ka'auwai, the state GOP chairman, said the national Democrats' ads backfired.
"D.C. Democrats learned the hard way that smear campaigns and flat out lies do not work in Hawai'i," he said.
"Ed Case and his D.C. friends tried to bully Colleen Hanabusa out of the race and the only thing they were able to do was drive down Ed's poll numbers and ultimately drive the DCCC out of Hawai'i.
"This race is a clear choice between Charles' positive message of lower taxes and job creation and the tired, stale and deceitful campaign tactics of his Democrat opponents."