“In a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.”
-Matt Taibbi, Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America
With that bit of optimism, here’s my first look at the influence of money in the Maui County’s 2014 election. The first real campaign finance reports from candidate committees aren’t due for another month (the deadline is July 10), but many candidates running in the Aug. 9 primary already have campaign accounts set up. The most recent accounting available can be found in disclosure reports covering the period from July 1 to December 31, 2013 on file with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission.
For some races, it’s far too early to tell how things will shape up, given the currently available data. The 9th District House race is the best example of this, where appointed incumbent Democrat Justin Woodson is running for the first time in his life against veteran Democrat James “Kimo” Apana. In that race, Woodson has $11,719.05 in the bank while Apana has nothing. Given the fact that Apana used to be Maui County Mayor and can draw on decades of political contacts and support, those numbers are by now most likely very different.
The most recent available reports paint a stark picture in the 6th District state Senate race. There, newcomer Democrat Terez Amato is taking on incumbent Democrat Roz Baker. When the late 2013 reports were filed, Amato had $147.50 to Baker’s $108,039.81. Given that Amato has pledged to steer clear of corporate contributions (something Baker has spent years doing), it’s hard to see that disparity changing in the next two months.
But even that race pales before the money situation in the Maui County Mayor’s race. We’ve got seven candidates (all non-partisan) there, but in terms of campaign spending, the late 2013 reports show the vast, Vast, VAST majority of the money–and there’s a ton of it, so far–in the race belongs to incumbent Mayor Alan Arakawa. His campaign had, by the end of 2013, a staggering $381,769.05. The filings show that his closest competitor, Alana Kay, had just $81.70 at the same time.
Of course, the reports due July 10 will give us a far clearer picture of the money situation in the races. But it’s fascinating to see where the candidates are starting, and what does (and doesn’t) change over the course of the campaign.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons