Who wants to win – Republican edition

As the news rolled out about the most recent campaign finance reports, no one would blame you if you thought the only party running any campaigns in Hawaii had a “D” next to their name.

“D” means Democrat.

The articles on the reports have focused a great deal on the three top candidates for the Democratic nomination for Governor. And, interestingly, articles seen focused mostly on the fact that one of the candidates – Vicky Cayetano – has loaned herself an eyepopping $1.1 million to stay competitive in the race.

But what about the Republican candidates running for the nomination to run against whomever the Democrat is? What about their financials. Well, once again, the assumption is that if the Democrats are getting all the money – with folks like Green getting almost $2 million – one would be thinking the Republican candidates have nothing more than a few thousand in their accounts.

Well, you’d be kinda wrong. Surprisingly at least two candidates are showing, at least to this blogger, financial strength in their candidacy for the Republican nomination.

And, to wit, it’s two candidates that didn’t make this bloggers dance card when thinking “who is going to take in a haul for the nomination”.

BJ Penn
PC: “190402-D-SW162-2229” by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

FIRST OFF, let’s lay out the main nominees for the Republican nomination for Governor. In no particular order, we have former Lt. Governor Duke Aiona, outgoing Honolulu Councilwoman Heidi Tsuniyoshi, former Mixed Martial Arts fighter “BJ” Penn, Kingdom Builders founder Gary Cordery, and for purposes of recognizing they got their names in first as those seeking nominees, Paul Morgan and Lynn Mariano.

The two that are reporting real money hauls are Gary Cordery and BJ Penn. Let us break down the two. For the last six months, Cordery has taken in $92,204, and Penn got a whopping $225,742 in the same period. As of the report, Penn has $92,651 left in the bank, and Cordery has $20,260.

But here is the interesting thing about these numbers. One, Penn, loaned himself $47,694, Cordery loaned himself no money. Second, if you take the loan out of Penn’s total take, his donation take was still more than Cordery’s for the last six months – $178,048 vs. $92,204.

(If you want to see for yourself, go to the Campaign Spending Commission of Hawaii website and look up “View reports” in the search home screen)

Gary Cordery
PC: ThinkTech Hawaii, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In looking at the list of who has given, and what has been spent, Cordery has been spending a good chunk of his money on political data and analytics (i360 LLC), and a great deal on bank fees (Anedot – an online donation platform) that probably have to do with the fees that one pays when giving online. For those giving money, a lot of self-employed individuals and even a professor from a community college gave him $4,000 (who knew a community college professor could give that much?)

Penn has a different set of donors and what he is spending on. For those who gave, Dana White of UFC gave him $6,000 (the max); several family members have given 4-figures of different values; the Executive Director of Melaleuca and a swath of people spanning from the Hawaii Island and a few UFC gyms on the mainland.

On the spending side – fees related to donations (Stripe), several neighbor island flights (Hawaiian Airlines), and $27,000 to a Washington State PR firm.

So each is spending on the things they need to to look alive and serious about this campaign. And looking alive and serious, as a Republican running for anything, already helps re-write one of the many detrimental perceptions that Republicans have, in Hawaii, in running for any office. But we will have to see if the other candidates can tap into money sources to make it a real more-than-two-player race.