Democratic and independent candidates critical of the majorities in the State Capitol have raised more in campaign donations than Republicans since the primary.
Democratic leaders say the campaign reports filed Monday show that donors are rejecting how the Legislature approached the state budget this year.
“I think it just speaks volumes of how the public is starting to realize who’s really at fault with the mess we’re in in Juneau.” Chris Tuck, House Minority Leader, said.
But Alaska Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock says the disclosures put a spotlight on a different issue: how candidates who are running as non-affiliated are actually working with Democrats.
“The vast majority of the so-called non-affiliated candidates are completely affiliated. They’re simply trying to figure out a way to pull one over on the voters,” Babcock said.
Fundraising can be crucial in determining whether the public learns about candidates through TV and radio commercials, as well as through mailings.
Republican candidates raised 580,000 dollars since August 7th, while Democrats raised 476,000 and non-affiliated candidates raised 201,000 dollars.
Beltrami raised the most of any single candidate over the past two months. The non-affiliated Anchorage Senate candidate raised 95,000 dollars, while incumbent Anchorage Republican Cathy Giessel raised less than half that. However, Giessel has more than twice as much cash on hand as Beltrami.
Babcock says labor leader Beltrami’s fundraising points to labor’s interest in maintaining state spending.
“There’s a massive coordination going on with the labor unions to funnel money into these, into the races, particularly into Beltrami’s race,” Babcock said.
Tom Begich is an Anchorage Democrat who’s running unopposed for the Senate. He says Beltrami’s fundraising success reflects discontent with the status quo.
“The campaign that seems to be doing very, very well is in fact Vince Beltrami’s nonpartisan campaign,” Begich said. “That’s a clear rejection of Cathy Giessel and her level of leadership.”
North Pole Republican Senator John Coghill raised more than 20,000 dollars more than Democratic challenger Luke Hopkins over the last two months. And Juneau Republican Cathy Muñoz raised the most of any House candidate – and more than three times as much as Democratic challenger Justin Parish.
The fundraising indicates which races are drawing the most attention and are likely to be competitive. The incumbent Democrat facing an opponent whose raised the most funds is Anchorage’s Bill Wielechowski. He was out-fundraised by Republican Kevin Kastner after the primary.
Other than the Munoz-Parish race, the other House races that saw the most fundraising are between: Democratic Representative Harriet Drummond and Republican challenger Mike Gordon to represent the Spenard area in Anchorage; Democratic Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tompkins and Republican challenger Sheila Finkenbinder to represent Sitka; Republican Representative Lance Pruitt and Democratic challenger Harry Crawford to represent Basher and East Anchorage; and Democratic Representative Matt Claman and Republican challenger Marilyn Stewart to serve West Anchorage.
Political observers note there’s still plenty of time for the fundraising gap to change before the election.