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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Abercrombie trails Hannemann's $2.3M

By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer

Mayor Mufi Hannemann led U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, his potential rival in the Democratic primary for governor, in fundraising through the end of last year.

Hannemann raised $2.3 million, including $1 million in the last six months of the year, state campaign-finance reports released yesterday show. Abercrombie raised $1.3 million, with $860,683 coming in the last six months.

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a Republican candidate for governor, collected $2.2 million, including $267,221 in the last six months.

Neal Milner, a University of Hawai'i ombudsman and political analyst, said early fundraising success can be used to send a message to rivals. He described it as being, in some ways, like a duel "with checks and MasterCards."

Hannemann, who has not officially announced that he is running for governor, said his fundraising shows he would have strong support.

"I'm going to continue to do what I've always said. Right now, the priority is my job as the mayor of Honolulu," Hannemann told reporters.

"This is just strong validation of the fact that the experience, the leadership skills, that we bring to the table is being very much appreciated and acknowledged throughout the state."

Abercrombie has stayed competitive with Hannemann, who has a well of potential donors in business and labor interests banking on city projects such as rail transit. The congressman, who plans to resign this month to campaign full time, would be closer to the mayor had he been able to transfer money raised for his U.S. House contests to his governor's campaign.

The state Campaign Spending Commission ruled in August that state law does not permit transfers from federal to state campaigns.

Abercrombie's advisers have been critical of Hannemann for actively raising money since last June but not committing to the campaign.

"People across the state are telling us that they want a governor who is completely committed to bringing the people of Hawai'i together so we can rebuild our economy and restore confidence in government," Bill Kaneko, Abercrombie's campaign manager, said in a statement.

Aiona said he was honored to get the donations in a recession.

"We treat every donation as an investment in our future," he said in a statement. "I am running for governor to fix our public school system because education is the foundation of the modern economy, and I will cut taxes and regulations on working families and small businesses to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation that will create jobs."

Federal campaign-finance reports, meanwhile, provide the first full snapshot of fundraising in the campaign to replace Abercrombie in urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District.

City Councilman Charles Djou raised $393,666 through the end of last year, state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa raised $252,812, and former congressman Ed Case raised $221,639.

Hanabusa, who has picked up key endorsements from U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and many Democrats, collected all of her money in the last quarter of the year. Djou, a Republican, and Case, a Democrat, had been raising money for months before Hanabusa entered the race.

The fundraising is for the September primary and November general election. The three candidates have also had to prepare for a likely special election in May for the remaining months of Abercrombie's term.

If Hannemann does resign as mayor to run for governor, it would trigger a special election for mayor, and potential candidates are already raising money.

City Managing Director Kirk Caldwell has raised $341,869, City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz raised $130,365, and Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle collected $88,287.

Honolulu City Councilman Rod Tam raised $79,786, while University of Hawai'i-Mānoa engineering professor Panos Prevedouros collected $8,675.

Most of Dela Cruz's and Tam's money was raised for previous contests for City Council and transferred to their potential mayoral campaigns.

In the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Norman Sakamoto raised $291,837, former state lawmaker Brian Schatz has $276,445, state Sen. Robert Bunda has $158,082, and state Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser has $113,462.

Most of Sakamoto's and Bunda's money was transferred from previous contests for Senate.

State Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu raised $49,893, while state Rep. Lyla Berg has $19,829.

Staff writer Gordon Y.K. Pang contributed to this report.

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