Pro-Rail Group spends another $200k on Mayoral Race - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Pro-Rail Group spends another $200k on Mayoral Race

Ben Cayetano (center) Ben Cayetano (center)
Kirk Caldwell (with hands raised) Kirk Caldwell (with hands raised)
John White John White

The biggest political spender in the Honolulu mayoral race is not a candidate but is a pro-rail group that's flooding the airwaves with negative ads.

Hawaii New Now has learned that the Pacific Resource Partnership has spent nearly $200,000 during the final two weeks leading to the August primary.

That's on top of a record $1 million that PRP has already spent on the race.

Nearly all of those ads were critical of mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano, who wants to dismantle the rail system.  And some political experts believe that PRP will continue to spend big on the race given the stakes involved.

"We knew there was a lot of money is being spent on this so this is not a surprise," said John Hart, communications professor at Hawaii Pacific University.

According to state Campaign Spending Commission records, PRP has outspent both candidates in the Honolulu mayoral race.Cayetano has raised $995,000 for the entire race while candidate Kirk Caldwell has taken in about $942,000.

Cayetano believes PRP's ads are backfiring.

"It's all about negative campaigning. I expect them to spend more in the general," Cayetano said.

John White, PRP's executive director, says ads were a big reason Cayetano was unable to win the election outright in the primary. He believes the ads provide voters with an accurate picture of Cayetano's record as governor.

"The Honolulu mayor's race represents a pivotal moment for our city," White said in an email.

"We have the stark choices: Either invest in our city and build a better future or go backwards with no real solutions to address the challenges of a growing city."

In the Aug. 11 primary, Cayetano received 45 percent of the vote ... or less than the 50 percent plus one needed ... forcing a runoff with Caldwell during the November general election.

Caldwell, meanwhile, believes he's closing the distance.

"I still feel the momentum," he said.

"I do feel the gap is going to be narrower and I think it's going to be a close election."

The mayoral election on Big Island is also heading for a runoff. But the money race there is anything but close.

State Campaign Spending Commission filings show that incumbent Billy Kenoi has raised $487,000 this election cycle. Kim, the former mayor who entered the race late, has raised about $9,000 as of the Aug. 11th primary.
     
Kenoi got about 35,000 more votes than Kim in the primary but it wasn't enough to avoid a November run off.

 

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