HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A national Democratic group began running a hard hitting television commercial against Republican gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona Friday, going after him for his anti-abortion stance.
The Democratic Governors Association in Washington, D.C. has spent six figures on the ad that's running on broadcast and cable TV outlets in Hawaii, Democratic sources said. An exact dollar estimate of the media buy was not available.
"In TV ads, he seems so reasonable. But the real Duke Aiona is troubling," said a woman's voice in the TV ad. "Republican Aiona believes we should outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. Even when the health of the mother is at risk."
The ad points out that while Aiona, the former lieutenant governor, is anti-abortion, his Democratic opponent State Sen. David Ige supports abortion rights. It highlights a sensitive issue in Hawaii, one of the most liberal states and the first in the country to legalize abortion in 1970.
Aiona declined an on-camera interview but released this statement: "Personally, I am pro-life and I choose life; however, I also believe every woman also has the right to choose."
The TV ad also said, "Outlawing abortion, it's the national Republican agenda and Duke Aiona's. Troubling and true."
But Aiona's campaign said that's not true and he will not try to overturn Hawaii's abortion law if elected governor.
"As a former judge I know how to maintain objectivity and submit to the rule of existing law. It's already been settled," Aiona said.
"This is a pretty hard hitting negative ad by Hawaii standards," said UH Manoa Political Science Professor Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now's political analyst.
"It could help Aiona because it will galvanize some of his socially conservative supporters. But it also reminds people that he's a Republican. They're clearly trying to connect him to the very conservative, national Republican Party," Moore said.
Ige also declined an on-camera interview, but released a statement saying:
"Our campaign has no affiliation with this advertiser and, our campaign has demonstrated, it is against all negative advertising."
Moore said the commercial could help reinforce Democratic Party talking points that while Aiona may seem like a nice guy, his stands on social issues are out of sync with a majority of Hawaii voters.
Aiona said Ige's Democratic allies are trying to distract voters from immediate concerns such as a lack of affordable housing and Hawaii's high cost of living.
Last month, the Republican Governors Association began running a TV ad trying to tie Ige to incumbent Gov. Neil Abercrombie and blaming them for Hawaii's high taxes and cost of living.
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