HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii News Now analysis of campaign spending by candidates in last Tuesday's election shows Republican Senatorial candidate Linda Lingle spent the most money per vote while Republican Congressional candidate Kawika Crowley spent the least money for each vote he won, less than a dollar per vote.
HNN based its calculations on the amount of money each campaign reported spending before Election Day. Many of the campaigns will report further fundraising and spending in reports due in the weeks ahead. So these spending figures are not their final spending amounts.
Lingle lost to Democrat Mazie Hirono by about 25 percentage points Tuesday, even though Lingle out-raised her rival by several hundred thousand dollars, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Lingle brought in $5.5 million, while Hirono raised $5.2 million.
In the end, Lingle's campaign spent $34 for every vote she won, compared to $19 that Hirono spent for each of her votes. Those figures do not include millions of dollars in spending by third-party mainland groups for and against both senate candidates.
Political analyst Dan Boylan said Hirono got a boost from Democratic voters in Hawaii concerned about the prospect of a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. And Democrats came out strong for Hawaii-born President Barack Obama in his re-election bid, further helping Hirono, Boylan said.
"They [The Democratic Party] could have run almost anybody against Linda Lingle and no matter how much money Linda spent, she would have lost," Boylan said. "I feel sorry for her [Lingle], having spent that much money, having raised that much money, having gone through that hard a campaign, but it was against her all way and all the numbers showed it in the polls from January until Election Day."
On the more frugal end, here was the race for Hawaii's 2nd Congressional seat in which homeless handy man Kawika Crowley, a Republican, garnered 40,697 votes in his unsuccessful race against Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, who won with 168,466 votes.
"It boggles my mind that I received that many votes," Crowley said. He said his "creativity" brought him lots of media coverage even though he spent very little. During the campaign, Crowley pledged if elected, he would donate half his Congressional salary to the Wounded Warriors' project that helps veterans, a move that earned him mentions in news stories that went national, he said. He said his major campaign activity was sign waving.
Crowley told Hawaii News Now he spent just $1,600 on his campaign for radio commercials on Oahu and Hawaii Island. Since Crowley's spending was so low and Gabbard spent $1.3 million during the political season, most of that in an expensive Democratic primary race to defeat Mufi Hannemann, Gabbard ended up spending $8 per vote versus Crowley, who spent just 39 cents for each vote he won.
"It proves conclusively that you can run literally anybody as a Republican and get 40,000 votes. Because if you've spent 39 cents per vote, you really haven't spent anything," Boylan said.
In the Hawaii County mayor's race, incumbent Billy Kenoi won re-election by about a two-percent margin, spending $597,795. Kenoi raised more money than that, but he and other state and county candidates do not have to file their final spending figures with the Campaign Spending Commission until Dec. 6, so final spending figures aren't yet available.
Kim had a self-imposed campaign donation limit of $10 per person, and reported spending just $20,754 in his effort to regain the mayor's post, a position he'd held for two terms.
The spending in the mayor's race came out to nearly 19 dollars per vote for Kenoi, while Kim had the bargain rate of just 68 cents a vote.
"If you have a good name, a really well-known person who is well liked, then you're in business, you're a competitive candidate, no matter how much money you spend," Boylan said.
"Name recognition is everything in politics if it's positive. Harry Kim has been out of office, he's had several heart problems, which is why he left office four years ago, but he's beloved on the island," Boylan added. "Kenoi can spent 18 or 19 times as much as Kim, but he's still going to run essentially a dead heat with someone as well known and well liked as Harry Kim."
On Oahu, the mayor's race saw the two candidates spending roughly the same amount of money per vote. Election winner Kirk Caldwell, the former city managing director and acting mayor, spent $9.37 for each vote he won. The campaign of former Governor Ben Cayetano, who lost the race by nearly eight percentage points, spent slightly less, about $8.69 for each vote he won.
The dollar totals do not include third-party expenditures, including $2.5 million spent by transit supporter Pacific Resource Partnership, an arm of the Carpenter's union which opposed Cayetano's candidacy since he wanted to scrap the city's $5.3 billion rail project. Caldwell supported rail transit.
After Lingle, the second-highest spender per vote in the general election was Carol Fukunaga, whose campaign coughed up $23 per vote in the winner-take-all race for the Nuuanu-Downtown seat on the Honolulu City Council. Fukunaga, a longtime Democratic state senator who supported rail, beat 15 other candidates for the non-partisan post. Rail transit foe Sam Aiona, a Republican who came in second, spent just under $6 for every vote he received.
In the race for the Leeward Coast-Makakilo-Kapolei city council seat, incumbent Tom Berg was knocked out of his seat by State Rep. Kymberly Pine, his one-time boss at the legislature, who won with 57 percent of the vote.
Pine, a pro-rail candidate whose campaign reported spending $115,857 so far, spent what amounted to $7.42 for each vote she earned. Berg, who was the council's most vocal rail opponent, spent $14,119 in his re-election effort, an amount that equaled $1.57 per vote.