The weeks leading up to the General Election were intense. Polls showed former U.S. Congressman Neil Abercrombie leading by a small margin and Republican gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona leading in a favorability poll.
With a lot at stake for UHPA members in this election, UHPA took quick, decisive action, producing three new, high-quality TV and radio spots as well as three direct mail pieces, all within less than two weeks. Despite the inundation of negative advertising on the airwaves and mailboxes, much of it financed by national organizations from the Mainland, UHPA took the high road, focusing on the track record and positive attributes of Neil Abercrombie and what he can do for Hawaii’s future. Both the messages and the way they were executed helped UHPA break through the clutter of other commercials and mailers.
“We heard from voters that they wanted to know about the candidates — what they’ve done, what they stood for and what they could do for Hawaii,” said Kris Hanselman, who directed the independent expenditure campaign. “We bucked the trend, resisted the temptation to resort to negative advertising, and delivered UHPA’s messages in a positive, compelling way with visual impact that we believe contributed to Neil’s victory.”
Hanselman confirmed UHPA’s approach was on target, noting that a recent report showed negative ads constituted 54% of the communications, while only 30% of communications addressed the attributes of candidates.
In addition to the governor’s race, UHPA also scored a major victory with former Senate President Colleen Hanabusa claiming the 2nd District seat in U.S. Congress, beating Charles Djou. He served in that role after winning a special election held earlier this year to fill the seat vacated by Neil Abercrombie, when Abercrombie announced he was running for governor.
As many of the winning candidates stated in their victory speeches last night, this is just the beginning. UHPA members must continue to remain vigilant and ensure candidates that are supportive of the UH and faculty get into office.
“We made a substantial investment in our independent campaigns, and we have become a major force to be reckoned with in the eyes of many in the community,” said J.N. Musto, UHPA Executive Director. “Kris took political endorsements to a new level for UHPA. We must continue the momentum, be actively engaged in the legislative process, and be ready for the 2012 election, which we anticipate will be just as intense and contentious as the election we’ve experienced this year.”