Money does the talking, but votes do the walking


POSTED: Wednesday, August 05, 2009

It has always been a great puzzlement that in a state with such a consistently lousy voter turnout, we both dearly love to talk politics and our politicians are able to convince somebody to pay for their multimillion-dollar campaigns.

If we hate to vote so much, why talk about it and why encourage those people with more money?

There is no answer. Although more than a year away the race for governor already has U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie and Mayor Mufi Hannemann measuring each other by the size of their bank balances.

Hannemann's is bigger, but Abercrombie's has more parts.

For Abercrombie the frustrating part is he can't get his hands on nearly $900,000 in money raised from past congressional campaigns. Hannemann is able to spend money running for governor with money he got while running for mayor.

Next month the Campaign Spending Commission is expected to finally decide if Abercrombie gets the money.

The third member of the big three, GOP Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona, has no such asterisks by his name; he ran for lieutenant governor and now he is running for governor and that is why people are giving him money.

So far Hannemann is living in the land of big bucks. Of $582,000 raised, the mayor got the maximum $6,000 from 37 donors. Abercrombie picked up the full $6,000 from just 11 donors.

Both men got most of their money from Hawaii, but Abercrombie shows that in his 20 years of traveling around the country he's made some friends.

Abercrombie's $486,000 comes from cashing checks from 22 states besides Hawaii, while Hannemann only has six states outside of Hawaii contributing to his efforts.

Hannemann's contribution list reads like the guest list to a George Ariyoshi karaoke party, with bankers, hotel executives and insider lawyers. And ex-UH football coach June Jones gave him $2,500.

Abercrombie has high-tech consultants, more lawyers, some defense contractors and his own bunch of Democratic party stalwarts. Plus stylist Paul Brown dropped $700 on the Abercrombie campaign.

At the end of the campaign, it will be votes, not money, that wins—but today money means a lot.

Richard Borreca writes on politics every Wednesday. Reach him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).