Liberal allies are rallying around Sen. Brian Schatz after damage from a hurricane extended voting for the deadlocked Democratic primary in Hawaii.
MoveOn.org sent a fundraising email late Sunday night with the subject line, “We’re going into overtime in Hawaii.” The email urged supporters to donate so the group could “finish the job in Hawaii” and ensure Schatz’s victory.
Schatz led his challenger, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, by just 1,635 votes as of Sunday evening. As many as 8,000 more votes could be cast in two precincts on the Big Island, where election officials postponed voting because of the storm damage.
Officials have not disclosed how many voters in those precincts cast early ballots, but Hawaii News Now reported that the remaining voters in those two precincts would be allowed to submit mail-in ballots. Although officials have not finalized the schedule, state law requires the mail-in process be completed within three weeks of the primary election.
"We will work with the state office of elections to address the outstanding ballots in this too close to call race,” Hanabusa spokesman Peter Boylan told CQ Roll Call, “but our primary concern is for the health and welfare of those families in Puna affected by Hurricane Iselle."
But Schatz has garnered support from a handful of liberal groups who circled the wagons in the weeks before the primary campaign.
In the past two weeks, MoveOn volunteers made more than 23,000 calls to Hawaii voters and the group boasted in its email that might be why Schatz has his current edge over Hanabusa. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee said it ran online ads on Schatz's behalf, raised $67,000 for the his campaign and had more than 100 volunteers doing phone banking.
During the primary campaign MoveOn.org spent $9,300 in independent expenditures, mainly on phone calls and payroll. The League of Conservation Voters also spent $400,000 on TV and mail. And liberal super PAC Working Families for Hawaii spent more than $100,000 in TV, radio and newspaper ads.
Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report.
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