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Top candidates in congressional race find faithful donors in family, friends


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POSTED: Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Friends and family aren't just for cell phones. They come in handy during campaigns, too, particularly during these tough economic times.

Just ask Ed Case and Charles Djou, the only major candidates openly seeking the U.S. House seat now held by Rep. Neil Abercrombie.

Both pulled in modest amounts of campaign cash from scores of individuals during the first half of 2009, including significant sums from relatives, close friends and co-workers.

“;My family's always supported me,”; said Case, a Democrat who represented Hawaii in the House from 2002 through 2006. He has received more than $25,000 from eight family members this year, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Djou, a Republican, garnered $3,500 from two relatives in 2009, according to FEC reports. The Honolulu city councilman also gained $1,850 from longtime aide Sylvia Matsuda.

Abercrombie, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, has said this will be his last term in the House.

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Case and Djou are trying to buck a political and economic environment that makes fundraising much more difficult than in recent years.

“;People absolutely do not have the same resources available,”; said Case, who gave up his House seat in 2006 for an unsuccessful primary election challenge against U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

Djou said the sour economy has prodded those who can contribute to give less. And both he and Case cited the plethora of hot races next year—for governor, lieutenant governor, Congress and possibly Honolulu mayor—as another factor.

“;There's a lot more competition for those same political donations,”; Djou said.

Political prognosticators have focused little attention on the contest, likely because of the perception that Democrats should have little trouble holding onto Abercrombie's seat.

Nonetheless, Djou garnered more than $103,000 this year, leaving him with $215,000 on hand as of June 30, according to his FEC reports. Djou has been raising money since late 2007.

Two of his contributors are family members—his mother, Sue Djou of Honolulu, who gave $3,000, and aunt Pearl S.C. Djou of Monterey Park, Calif., who donated $500.

Case began fundraising this year, accumulating more than $97,000 so far, including a $25,000 loan he made to his campaign. He had a bit less than $120,000 on hand as of June 30.

Among his contributors were his father, sister, uncle, aunt, brother and sister-in-law, as well as cousin Steve Case, founder of America Online.

Another Democrat reportedly is eying a primary election race against Case. State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to meet with power brokers, including U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.

Hanabusa did not respond to a request for comment on her plans. The campaign committee she established for her 2006 U.S. House race held $4,500 as of June 30, but it owed Hanabusa $105,000 from two loans she made to it three years ago.