Find us @

Feature

The battle for open Hawaii’s House of Representatives seat creates fear among Democrats

Hawaii House members are not worried they’ll lose the seat they hold while a gubernatorial race has split the party. All would run in one election if there were an option.

Published

on

On Saturday, voters in Hawaii will decide who will replace outgoing Rep. Ed Case and one of two incumbent Democratic senators.

Rather than seek a second term in the House, Democratic Rep. Kai Kahele announced earlier this year that he would run for governor, a race he isn’t expected to win.

That triggered a six-way race for his 2nd District seat, with incumbent state Rep. Patrick Branco and former state Sen. Jill Tokuda (who unsuccessfully sought the 2018 lieutenant governor’s office) at the center of the race.

In terms of money raised, Tokuda is ahead. As of July 24th, she had collected $528,000 and had $90,000 in her bank account. She put up $25,000 on the line for her own campaign. Branco said he had $153,000 in funding and $33,000 available.

However, some incumbent House Democrats are divided over who to support, and there has been significant outside spending in the race that has helped to raise Branco’s profile.

Advertisement

It is estimated that outside groups spent a total of $598,000 in support of Branco and $603,000 in opposition to Tokuda. These groups include the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ BOLD PAC, the cryptocurrency-linked Web3 Forward PAC, Mainstream Democrats PAC, and VoteVets. Both the Congressional Progressive Caucus Political Action Committee and the Medicare for All PAC, which is affiliated with CPC Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, contributed $199,000 to help elect Tokuda.

According to politicalmoneyline.com, Tokuda has raised $19,000 from the leadership PACs of sitting representatives and senators, including $5,000 from Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono and $4,000 from New York Representative Mondaire Jones. A total of $7,000 has been raised by Branco’s PAC from current members of Congress, including $2,500 from Arizona Representative Reuben Gallego and $1,500 from California Representative Linda Sanchez.

It’s important to note that the 2nd District nomination is also being sought by two Republicans. Joseph Webster, who put $60,000 of his own money into his campaign and told Honolulu Civil Beat he is a “Republican like you’ve never met before,” only raised $62,000. In 2020, Joseph Akana, the other Republican candidate, ran against Kahele and received 31% of the vote.

Rep. Ed Case (D-CA1), a Blue Dog Democrat newly elected in 2018, is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Sergio Alcubilla (D-CA), an attorney and leader in the nonprofit sector. Comparatively, as of July 24, Case had raised $841,000 and had $475,000. As of June 30, Alcubilla had raised $107,000 and had $6,000.

With $24,000 from our Hawaii PAC, we made sure Alcubilla won.

Advertisement

The three Republican candidates for the 1st District only reported fundraising for one of them, Conrad Kress, to the Federal Election Commission. On July 24th, Kress had $45,000 in the bank and $17,000 in the bank.

Both Hawaii House seats are rated as Solid Democratic by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Steve Tataii, a mediator and conflict resolution expert. According to FEC filings, Schatz raised $4.3 million and had $3.5 million on hand as of July 24. Tataii, on the other hand, did not file with the FEC, so his campaign did not raise or spend more than $5,000.

There are five Republicans running against Schatz, but only one has reported fundraising. Marine veteran Timothy Dalhouse is one of them. As of July 24th, Dalhouse had raised $154,000. Of that total, he put up $150,000 of his own money to help fund his campaign.

It’s worth noting that Inside Elections gives this Senate seat the same Solid Democratic rating.

Advertisement

Roll Call reports that Democratic House factions are fighting over a vacant seat in Hawaii.