There’s a significant fund-raising gap between the two incumbents fighting to represent a new Southeast Senate district. CoastAlaska’s Ed Schoenfeld takes a look at some of the details of the District Q race. It’s the first of four reports on campaign financing in the region.
Redistricting shoved Sitka’s Bert Stedman and Angoon’s Albert Kookesh into an incumbent-vs.-incumbent Senate race.
The most recent campaign finance reports from the Alaska Public Offices Commission show Republican Stedman with the most money. He brought in about $31,000 since the August Senate District Q primary. That’s about six times more than Democrat Kookesh’s $5,000.
Overall, Stedman leads with around $64,000 raised this and last year. That’s almost twice Kookesh’s $33,000.
Still, Stedman says he’s hoping for more.
“It would be nice to get that dollar amount up to about $80,000 to run a good Senate campaign. It’s just expensive to travel around. [With] advertising and stuff like that, it has a funny way of adding up,” he says.
The district includes Ketchikan, Haines, Wrangell, Sitka, Craig, Metlakatla, Hoonah and Klukwan, plus numerous smaller communities. It’s about three-quarters of Stedman’s old district and one-quarter of his competitor’s.
Kookesh continues raising funds. But unlike Stedman, he says he has what he needs. Still, it’s been hard.
“It’s really been hard to raise money because so many people are running this year. Every House seat and every Senate seat, except for one. I’ve even seen Anchorage legislators coming down here for fund-raisers in Juneau. So they must have dried Anchorage up pretty good,” he says.
Both are members of the state Senate’s bi-partisan majority, which blocked Governor Sean Parnell’s plan to lower oil taxes. Neither got money from Alaska’s major petroleum companies, or the political action committees they fund.
Here’s some of the campaign finance details (Scroll down for links to detailed APOC reports):
Stedman’s campaign did attract $1,000 from top officials at Armstrong, a Colorado-based, independent oil and gas company with Alaska investments. He also brought in $250 from the ConocoPhilllips Employee PAC.
But he’s not getting much help from his party.
“Each Senator can get up to $15,000 from the party. I’ve gotten $250 from the Sitka Republican Women, and that’s it. I expect no party support out of Anchorage at all,” Stedman says.
Kookesh got a little more party money, $500 from Juneau’s Democratic organization.
Both candidates have raised significant amounts from unions and their PACs.
Kookesh brought in $7,250 from six state employees’ and teacher’s groups, plus two constriction unions. All of Kookesh’s PAC money came from labor groups.
Stedman raised half as much as his opponent. He got $3,600, from three construction labor groups. (Hear a forum with both candidates.)
Five other PACS, including seiners, dentists and hospitality businesses, for a total of $6,600.
Kookesh did bring in about $3,000 from board members and employees of regional Native corporation Sealaska, where he’s board president.
“I got some money from individuals who work for Sealaska. But, no, they don’t have a PAC and they haven’t spent any money on a PAC. And if they had a PAC they certainly didn’t spend it on me,” Kookesh says.
Meanwhile, Stedman got $500 from the president of Sitka’s Native corporation.
The candidates have met with business, community and tribal leaders as they’ve traveled from Metlakatla to Pelican and points in between.
Kookesh says voters have asked about education funding and energy prices, among other issues.
“There’s a lot of talk about the ferry system and the need for replacing ferries. The road to resources has a lot of discussion because of the Prince of Wales mines that are going in down there,” Kookesh says.
Stedman says he’s hearing much of the same, from just about all communities.
“The issues haven’t changed or don’t change when you move from one island to the others. The major hurdles are energy and transportation,” Stedman says.
The candidates’ numbers have changed since their most recent finance reports, filed earlier this month.
At that time, Stedman had spent about $31,000 and still had around $26,000 left. Kookesh had spent around $11,000, with $22,000 remaining.