Experts say union’s big spending could influence LG’s race

The PAC Be Change Now reported it spent $3.7 million on ads in the primary with another rough $700,000 pending.
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 9:54 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 4, 2022 at 11:26 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Carpenters Union political action committee is about to set new records in election spending.

And the influx of cash could influence a very tight lieutenant governor’s race, experts say.

The PAC — called Be Change Now — reported it spent $3.7 million on ads for the primary election with roughly $700,000 pending.

Much of the money is aimed at keeping candidate Sylvia Luke out of office.

Be Change Now is funding attack ads against Luke, supporting her closest competitor Ikaika Anderson, who was endorsed by the Carpenters Union.

“She was one of the most powerful people at the Legislature who received large amounts of contributions from corrupt donors, like the former CEO of Navatek,” said the union spokesperson Lee Tokuhara.

But Luke called the ad “hypocrisy.”

“Many of the people that they’re supporting have also received money from Martin Kao, but they have no problem in supporting those candidates,” she said.

Luke said the union is targeting her because she stood against a permanent tax for rail.

“It’s clearly to prevent someone like me who will not be beholden who won’t just take their side,” Luke said.

Experts said the union could sway the outcome with their financial force.

“This is largely a name recognition race,” said HNN political analyst Colin Moore.

“Because there are no big policy differences. And it’s also about who you trust. What negative advertising can do, whether it’s fair or not, is just put that sense of doubt in the minds of voters.”

Common Cause Hawaii, a non-profit dedicated to honest politics, said there needs to be more transparency with PAC and regulation of their influence over candidates.

“So this is actually incredibly disturbing that the PACs and super PACs are muddying the waters and changing the dynamics of the elections in Hawaii,” said Sandy Ma, the executive director of Common Cause.

The union is also heavily supporting gubernatorial candidate and current Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

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