Murkowski raises big cash, expects a fight

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (File photo: KTOO - Juneau.)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (File photo: KTOO – Juneau.)

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is raising serious money for her re-election bid next year, despite having no serious challenger yet.

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Campaign coordinator Scott Kendall said today that total contributions for the previous three months were close to a million dollars.

“In the third quarter of the year we raised over $920,000,” he said.

All told, Murkowski has raised more than $3 million for the 2016 election, and has more than $2 million on hand.

Kendall, the only full-time campaign staffer so far, says they don’t plan to open campaign offices until next year but could mobilize sooner if needed. As of today , no challenger had filed with the Federal Election Commission, which is mandatory for any candidate who raises more than $5,000. Still, Kendall says Murkowski has to be ready.

“It’s important to remember the filing deadline is not until early June of next year,” Kendall said. “So up until that date, we have to plan that we will have a challenger both in the primary and the general.”

In 2010, when Murkowski lost the Republican Primary, challenger Joe Miller didn’t announce his candidacy until April of that year. Murkowski retained her Senate seat with a write-in campaign. Kendall says they’ve received hundreds of contributions from Alaska, but he acknowledges she is looking outside the state for money.

“The senator has certainly been fundraising, yes,” he said. “And certainly with her position as chair of Energy and Natural Resources, energy companies, many of whom do business and create jobs here in Alaska, are certainly interested in supporting her.”

At least twice in the past two years, Murkowski has missed votes in the Senate while raising campaign cash in Texas.