July 12--U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, scrambling to stay competitive with U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in fundraising in the Democratic primary for Senate, loaned her campaign $117,000 in June.
The loan came as Hanabusa had her best fundraising quarter since she announced her campaign in May 2013. The congresswoman, according to her campaign, raised about $702,480 from April through June, for $2.7 million overall. Her tally would have stood as her best quarter even without the loan.
Schatz raised about $822,000 during the past quarter, his best mark in a year, and has brought in $4.8 million in total.
"We can't compete with all of the mainland interests and third party groups trying to buy this election for Brian by telling Hawaii people how to vote," Peter Boylan, a spokesman for the Hanabusa campaign, said in an email about the loan. "Colleen wanted to demonstrate her commitment to the campaign, just like all of the generous supporters who are giving their hard earned money."
The Schatz campaign has used its fundraising superiority to saturate the airwaves with advertisements. Advisers to Schatz say the money has also helped with research and a field operation that will complement a get-out-the-vote strategy.
Clay Schroers, Schatz's campaign manager, said in a statement that the campaign owes it to the donors to "be careful and deliberate with our spending. We have made it a priority to put our resources towards communicating directly with voters about the senator's priorities."
Hanabusa's loan is a reminder of the intense fundraising pressure that candidates for high-profile political office are under.
Jerry Burris, a former political columnist and editorial page editor for The Honolulu Advertiser, said that holding the primary in early August instead of late September, and the trend toward early voting by absentee mail or walk-in ballot, has shortened the campaign cycle.
The state moved up the primary to August in 2012 to comply with a federal law that protects voting rights for military and overseas voters. Nearly half of all ballots cast in the primary two years ago came in before Election Day. "It's become extremely intense," Burris said. "You're all-in at the beginning or you're out."
But candidates, particularly in competitive races, have often sought loans to finance their campaigns.
Hanabusa loaned $125,000 to her unsuccessful Democratic primary campaign for Congress in 2006.
In 2012 Tulsi Gabbard made loans of $98,000 to her Democratic primary campaign for Congress in the days before her easy victory. A campaign spokesman for Gabbard later explained that a poll had shown her trailing former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and that the Gabbard campaign feared Hannemann would spend heavily on ads in the final days. Hannemann had loaned his campaign $150,000 in the month before the primary, arguing he had to compete with interest groups that were independently helping Gabbard.
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