Political newcomer Keith Amemiya is chief fundraiser in mayoral race

Political newcomer Keith Amemiya is chief fundraiser in mayoral race

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A political newcomer was the leading campaign fundraiser in the Honolulu mayoral race.

State campaign spending filings show that first-time candidate Keith Amemiya raised the most money — $1.2 million — followed by City Councilmember Kymberly Pine who collected $754,000.

Ex-Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa was next at $537,000 while former Hawaii News Now General Manager Rick Blangiardi — another political newcomer — raised $438,000.

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann was a late entry but still managed to collect $387,000.

“How much money you raise is not a perfect judge of support. But for someone like Keith Amemiya, who wasn’t extremely well known and hadn’t held elective office before, to raise this kind of money shows how much support he has,” said Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now’s political analyst.

The records show Blangiardi also loaned himself a quarter million dollars while Amemiya loaned himself over $200,000.

Amemiya spent the most — nearly $1.3 million — or more than twice as much as the next biggest spenders Pine and Blangiardi.

“For the candidates who are not so well known -— Keith Amemiya and Rick Blangiardi — money is crucial. And that’s one of the reasons you see them spending this money as fast as it came in,” Moore said.

The campaigns said raising money during a pandemic is challenging because so many people are out of work and because it’s difficult to hold fundraisers while social distancing.

“We pressed paused on campaign activities and fundraising, cancelling four fundraisers to keep people safe,” said Pine.

“Ninety percent of the people I called for fundraising who normally are successful needed my help instead.”

When the pandemic hit, Hanabusa’s campaign said that instead of focusing on raising campaign funds it helped “communities with donations and grassroots outreach.”

“With over 20% unemployment, Colleen believes this race is not and should not be about money and who can raise, spend or loan themselves the most funds,” her campaign said.

Hannemann said he was pleased by his fundraising results given that he only began campaigning about a month ago.

“This support attests to the belief in my candidacy and is helping us share our message of proven, tested leadership, experience and economic revitalization that will be required during the crisis Honolulu faces as a result of the pandemic,” he said.

Blangiardi said the desire for new leadership at city hall is why people are supporting his campaign.

“This energy and hunger for real change, during this difficult and unprecedented time, is what drives our campaign,” he said.

Adam Wong, chair of Amemiya’s campaign, agreed that voters want change.

“Voters have a clear choice in this year’s election: the campaigns of a wealthy media executive, longtime politicians who will continue the status quo, or our campaign that will take action for real change for Honolulu,” he said.

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