BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Honolulu’s mayoral race has gone Hollywood.
Jim Nabors, who played Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show, and later played the same character in his own spin-off show, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., has endorsed former Gov. Ben Cayetano in a new radio commercial airing on local Clear Channel Stations.
Cayetano, who was governor of Hawaii from 1994 to 2002, is running for Oahu mayor against former city managing director Kirk Caldwell. Both candidates are Democrats, however county elections on Oahu are non partisan.
In the 30-second spot, Nabors briefly addresses the multi-million dollar negative advertising campaign being waged against Cayetano, before endorsing him.
“I’m 82 years old and I’ve lived in Hawaii for about 50 of those years. You know in all this time, I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a political race, this much negative campaigning.
“But I do know one thing for sure: Ben Cayetano is one of the finest people you could ever have in the mayor’s office.”
“I’m voting for Ben and I sure hope you will too.
“Thanks a lot.”
Pacific Resource Partnership, and its affiliate Hawaii Carpenters Union, have spent some $2 million on negative television and radio advertisements and email campaigns against Cayetano, because Cayetano opposes construction of the city’s $5.2 billion elevated steel on steel rail project. Pacific Resource Partnership and Hawaii Carpenters Union represent 200 unionized construction companies, and some are benefitting financially from the rail project.
SaveOurHonolulu.com, an Independent Expenditures Committee headed by retired Judge Walter Heen, Honolulu businessman Cliff Slater and University of Hawaii Law Professor Randall Roth, sponsored the Nabors’ advertisement and other television and radio advertisements to push Cayetano’s candidacy, in part because they oppose the city’s controversial rail project.
The rail was initiated during Caldwell’s term, when Mufi Hannemann was mayor and he was first managing director and then acting mayor, and Caldwell still backs the project.
Cayetano, however, said the rail will bankrupt the city and destroy its beauty. He proposes using the billions of dollars that would be spent on fixed rail to make $1.5 billion in transportation related improvements and launching a Bus Rapid Transit System. Cayetano said Oahu also needs some $15 billion in infrastructure repairs to roads, sewers and water systems.
Cayetano, who has not yet heard the Nabors’ advertisement, said: “It means a lot to me that Jim did this commercial. We have been close friends, and the fact that he would do this for me, touches me.”
Nabors moved to Hawaii 50 ago and as Cayetano said “has been living here quietly ever since.”
“He cares about what happens in the city and the state,” Cayetano added.
Nabors is a well known singer with a rich baritone voice and also has performed at concerts here in the islands. Cayetano and Nabors met in 1994 when Hollywood Producer Al Masini, a Hawaii resident and friend of Cayetano, asked Nabors to perform at Cayetano’s inaugural ball. Since, they have developed a friendship, and attend each others birthday parties and special events.
“He is really an incredible person,” Cayetano said of Nabors.