A Record Campaign Spending Year

It’s going to take a couple of months to sort out all the lessons learned from next Tuesday’s mid-term elections. It appeared from the beginning that the main attraction would be the battle between two very strong Democrat contenders for the office of governor, Mufi Hannemann and Neil Abercrombie – just two candidates pumped more than $5 million into the economy.

It was a spirited campaign, expensive and with a surprise outcome. In this race, the polls were incorrect. It appears no one had a real feel for the landslide that what was going to happen.

When all the numbers are in, the gubernatorial candidates, Abercrombie and Duke Aiona, will have spent another $5 million.

Who would have imagined a gubernatorial election in a small state like Hawaii would cost more than $10 million? Even the president got involved with his “Robo-calling” support for Abercrombie.

Probably more surprising was the amount candidates Charles Djou and Colleen Hanabusa spent on the congressional race in the 1st District. The word is it, too, will be more than $5 million! This race has consequences because it could determine the balance of power in the U.S. Congress, but that’s still a lot of money.

There are many things going on in the election that have consequences. The vote for an appointed school board, and a host of city charter amendments that have received, or deserved, little public awareness.

As far as elections go, we are pretty fortunate, because there are clear-cut differences between the candidates in both elections. One side is sold on protecting President Obama’s policies, the other side is opposed to increased taxes. The only issue they all seem to agree on is an appointed school board.

How contested are the issues? Well, when was the last time an actor from Los Angeles was recruited to endorse a political party in a general election in Hawaii?

I guess we should all be grateful that just four candidates poured more than $10 million into our economy. Probably the most obvious message in all of this is that, after all is said and done, it proved the issues were worth the record expenditure of campaign money, never mind where or who it came from.

The battle lines were drawn early on, and there was a predictable escalation of the political rhetoric to the very end. Even though the negative campaign advertisements got boring, it is our good fortune to take part in a most important election. The moral of why the campaign was so expensive can be attributed to an old saying: “Every innovative idea requires a finite number of dollars to convert it from concept to reality.”

Now that we’ve all seen how much the concepts cost, we have to wait for the reality to set in.

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