HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Republican Governors Association has begun running the first negative television ad of the general election race for governor, criticizing Democrat David Ige and trying to boost Republican Duke Aiona. But two political analysts question whether the commercial will be effective.
Over ominous sounding music, the announcer starts the TV commercial by saying "Neil Abercrombie calls David Ige a good partner. Leading the way for an estimated $800 million in taxes and fees. We're now the worst state to make a living."
The TV spot tries to link Ige to the failures of the administration of fellow Democrat Neil Abercrombie, the incumbent governor who Ige beat in a primary election landslide last month.
University of Hawaii Manoa political science professor Colin Moore doubted the new commercial will be effective for one major reason.
"Trying to tie Ige to Abercrombie in voters' minds might be pretty difficult, because most of them voted for Ige precisely because they didn't agree with Abercrombie," Moore said.
John Hart, the chairman of the Communication Department at Hawaii Pacific University, agreed that trying to link Abercrombie with Ige will not be successful.
"Ige has no close relationship," Hart said."He beat the pants off the guy in the election and I don't think Hawaii is going to say the two of them are connected."
The ad said Republican Duke Aiona will strengthen the state's economy and create new jobs.
The Republican Governors Association, based in Washington, D.C., did not return Hawaii News Now's call or email to tell us how much money it will spend on these and other ads trying to boost Aiona.
The Republican Governors Association has already given Aiona $6,000, the maximum allowed by law and has donated another $25,000 to the Hawaii Republican Party.
Aiona's campaign released a statement saying it "has seen the ad and while we had nothing to do with its creation, we welcome the contrast it brings to the race."
"So in some ways this is sort of perfect for them, right?" said Moore, the Hawaii News Now political analyst. "They're able to say that their campaign itself wasn't responsible for negative campaigning, but they get the benefit of this pretty critical ad."
Ige released a statement that said: "Hawaii's primary election voters overwhelmingly agreed with me that we need a new direction for the next four years. The Ige administration will chart a fresh future and not go backwards to the failed 'Furlough Friday' policies of the Aiona-Lingle years."
Aiona was lieutenant governor under Gov. Linda Lingle from 2002 to 2010. During recession budget cuts while Lingle was governor, the state furloughed public school teachers on scattered Fridays throughout the school year. Other state workers were laid off and furloughed, with state offices closing on periodic days to save funds.
Hart, of HPU, said he didn't think the mainland-style announcer in the new TV spot and scary music will go over well in Hawaii.
"Wrong voice, wrong slant. I don't see this particular ad from a communications point of view as being very effective," Hart said.
Moore said: "One thing that we know about negative advertising is it just tends to depress voter turnout overall. It turns all voters off to the political process. And so maybe you'll get lower voter turnout and maybe that's part of the goal."
"This is classic negative advertising. And it really just tries to scare you as a voter. And that tends to be effective rather than what is said in the ad itself," Moore added.