The campaign’s most recent financial report shows Duke Aiona struggling to raise cash

Republican Duke Aiona is struggling to raise the money he needs to get his campaign message across in the gubernatorial race this year, and had received less than $171,000 in donations this election year as of Sept. 26 , as can be seen from his most recent state record.

In contrast, Democratic candidate Lt. gov. Josh Green nearly $3.73 million this election cycle and spent more than $3 million in his first race against Vicky Cayetano and US Rep. Kai Kahele.

In the six weeks following the Aug. 13 primary, Green raised more than $253,000, and he had more than $378,000 to spend as his campaign headed into the final weeks of the general election. Mail-in ballots should be distributed to Hawaii voters by October 21.

The new filings, which cover the period from August 14 to September 26, show Aiona is critically short of funds weeks before mail-in voting begins.

Aiona suggested he might need as much as $1 million for the race in a September 16 interview, expressing confidence at the time that “we’ll make it.”

On Tuesday he said: “We are fine. We scratch, but we’re fine.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona said his campaign will have the resources it needs to get his message across. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

“The money came in, not in bundles like my opponent has. Mine fetches maybe $10,000 here, $5,000 there, stuff like that,” he said.

Aiona also said he was thinly straddled during the campaign. “I can only control what I can control. It’s not so much because people don’t want to give money, it’s because I’m not doing as much as I can,” he said. But he added: “We will have the resources that we will need to spread our message.”

Campaign veterans in heavily Democratic Hawaii have predicted that Aiona would struggle to raise money as Green is believed to have the advantage, and lobbyists and other donors tend to flock to the candidates most likely to win seem to be. Many major donors got involved with Green early in the race.

In his most recent filing, Green listed significant post-grade donations from major players in the tourism industry as well as Hawaii’s fledgling marijuana industry.

Green supports the legalization of recreational cannabis, and legalization advocates are expected to make a major push through the recreational support legislature next year to expand the market for Hawaii’s dispensaries.

Donations from this sector included $2,500 from Kauai Dispensary Green Aloha, $2,000 from Oahu Dispensary Aloha Green Holdings Inc., $3,000 from Washington, DC-based Marijuana Policy Project, and more as $2,500 from Randy Gonce, executive director of the Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association.

Post-primary donations from the visitor industry included $1,000 from the Hawaii Hotel Alliance; $500 from Jeff Wagoner, CEO of Outrigger Hospitality Group; $500 from Linda Rodrigues, senior vice president of Hilton Grand Vacations; and $500 from Sean Dee, Outrigger Hotels Chief Marketing Officer.

Other tourism-related donations included $1,000 from MVW & Affiliated Companies (Marriott Vacations Worldwide); $2,000 from ARDA ROC-PAC, which advocates for timeshare companies; $1,000 from Hawaii Lodging and Tourism HOTELPAC; and $1,000 from Maui Hotel and Lodging Association PAC.

Honolulu Civil Beat's
Among the many donations to Democratic Lt. gov. Josh Green in recent weeks has been a $2,000 donation from former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s campaign. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Also of note was a maximum donation of $6,000 to Green from the United Public Workers PAC and $2,000 from Friends of Kirk Caldwell, former mayor of Honolulu.

The UPW was the only major public workers union to support Greens opponent Kai Kahele in the primaries. Caldwell planned to challenge Green in the primary race for governor, but withdrew from the contest before the entry deadline.

The Greens’ campaign issued a written statement Tuesday saying it was “incredibly grateful and humbled to have received such overwhelming support from across Hawaii, with more than 5,000 individual donations during this campaign from across our state, including Thousands of small donations from nurses, teachers, firefighters, paramedics, small business owners and retired Kupuna.”

“We don’t take this level of support for granted and will continue to work hard to earn it every day, bringing people together and moving Hawaii forward to solve our biggest challenges, including affordable housing, homelessness and the rising cost of living,” it said in the message.

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