With primary just weeks away, Kailua parade is full of politicos

With primary just weeks away, Kailua parade is full of politicos
Volunteers walk the parade for Mufi Hannemann
Volunteers walk the parade for Mufi Hannemann

KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly a quarter of the units in Friday's Kailua Chamber of Commerce 68th annual Fourth of July Parade were politicians, political causes or candidates for office, with the primary election less than five weeks away.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie was the first politician appearing in the parade, and his campaign group -- Women for Abercrombie -- made up the last marching unit nearly two hours later.

Abercrombie's opponent in the Democratic primary -- State Sen. David Ige -- greeted supporters along the route, flanked by a group of campaign supporters.

Independent candidate for Governor Mufi Hannemann also walked the route with dozens of volunteers and a trolley.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona greeted parade watchers while his campaign volunteers sang along to the pop song "Happy" blaring from a float.

The Kailua Chamber of Commerce charges entry fees to most groups in the parade to help cover the costs and politicians pay the most.

While marching bands, military groups and horseback units don't pay entry fees, political campaigns are charged $450 to $550 to be in the Kailua parade. That's five and a half times as much as nonprofits and 40 percent more than businesses.

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa is locked in a close race for the U.S. Senate against Senator Brian Schatz.

While Hanabusa walked with the state's top elected office holders in the front of the parade, Schatz was the only politician to do a "two-fer." He marched at the front of the parade in his elected capacity and then joined his campaign volunteers farther back along the route for a second chance at face time with the public.

Surrounded in the parade by politicians spending millions of dollars to get elected or stay in office, the liberal public policy group MoveOn.org has an uphill battle to get this message across.

"Money out of politics, voting is the only fix," chanted MoveOn.org volunteers.

Kailua-Waimanalo State Rep. Chris Lee, a strong supporter of green energy, displayed an off-the-grid approach to powering the music and speaker system for his campaign unit. It used a large solar panel aimed at the sunny Kailua skies.

There were about 107 units in this year's parade, an increase from 100 last year, because of more election-year turnout by the campaigns.

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.