Hawaii: Schatz’s Fundraising Sends Message to Potential Primary Foes

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Posted April 11, 2013 at 9:39am

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, is trying to ward off potential primary challengers with hefty first-quarter fundraising and a veteran campaign team already in place for 2014.

The Democrat, appointed Dec. 26 to replace the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, announced on Thursday he raised more than $1.1 million in the first three months of this year.

A news release states that 79 percent of the money came from Hawaii donors. But he also received a boost from some Senate colleagues.

That includes, among others, from the political action committees of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet of Colorado

(See also in Roll Call: Bad Blood May Mean Primaries For Hawaii Democrats)

“I’m profoundly grateful and deeply humbled by the generous support I’ve received in my first three months as Senator,” Schatz said in a written statement. “I’m committed to providing strong leadership for the people of Hawaii, and determined to run a strong campaign worthy of the people of Hawaii.”

Schatz had just more than $1 million in cash on hand as of March 31, as he prepares for what could be a scrappy brawl for a seat that had been held by Inouye for the past 50 years.

Passed over by the governor in favor of Schatz, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa has made no secret of her interest in running in next year’s special election to fill the remaining two years of Inouye’s term.

Hanabusa has commissioned a poll on hypothetical contests with both Schatz and Gov. Neil Abercrombie, and she’s expected to announce soon which office she intends to run for.

In the meantime, Schatz, the former lieutenant governor and now Hawaii’s senior senator, is raising significant money, racking up endorsements and has hired a team of consultants who all have experience in Aloha State politics.

They are: Mark Mellman for polling; Rich Davis, who also works with now-Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, for media; Ed Peavy for direct mail; Trilogy Interactive for digital; and Josh Handelman and Lori Lafave for fundraising.