Hirono's War Chest Keeps Pace With Lingle's

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Ed Case and Mazie Hirono will square off one last time this Thursday, on a primetime debate on Hawaii News Now sponsored with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The unexpected decision by Hirono to ask for a fifth debate with her Democratic opponent has some political observers sensing the U.S. representative may be in a much closer race for the U.S. Senate with Case, the former congressman.

One arena where Hirono clearly leads Case, however, is in raising campaign contributions. Should she best him in the Aug. 11 primary, Hirono appears poised to keep pace with presumptive Republican nominee Linda Lingle in the Nov. 6 general election.

According to the July filings with the Federal Election Commission, Hirono collected $829,763 during the second quarter (and $3.4 million for the election cycle) while Case took in $123,819 (and just over $700,000 total). But $25,000 of Case's latest haul came in a loan he made to himself on June 28, reports show.

Lingle continued to raise more money than anyone else in the U.S. Senate race, raking in $1.1 million from April 1 to June 30 and $4.2 million overall. Hirono had just over $2 million left in the bank compared to Lingle's $2.3 million (Lingle faces only nominal primary competition). Case had about $252,000 left.

It won't be known until the next reports are filed how much was spent in the final push to the primary, an especially important period for Case and Hirono who recent polls showed were running neck-and-neck. Should Hirono choose to splurge on TV ads, for example — she has thus far held back — to fend off Case, it will cut into a war chest she would probably rather save for the battle against Lingle.

Meantime, the most recent FEC filings largely continue the contribution patterns of previous reports.

For example, in the last quarter, Case raised all of his money from individual donors. He reported no money from the Democratic Party and none from political action committees.

Hirono and Lingle also reported no money coming directly from their political parties. But each continued to collect significant sums from political action committees, including PACs that are headed by Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats.

Hirono continues to have the support of well-known local business executives, attorneys, government and community leaders; Case attracts lawyers, educators and medical doctors; while Lingle is backed by people who used to work in her administration and a sizable share of mainland interests.

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