By James Brooks
Alaska Beacon 

Dunleavy ahead of Walker in fundraising in final weeks before primary


Incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy has raised more money than any other candidate in this year’s Alaska governor’s race over the past five months and is heading toward the Aug. 16 primary election with more cash in his campaign war chest than his challengers.

Dunleavy, a Republican, reported raising $925,380 between Feb. 2 and July 15, according to new filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, and reported having $768,263 in cash on hand as of July 15, after expenses and debts.

Former Gov. Bill Walker, challenging Dunleavy as an independent, raised $831,896 between Feb. 2 and July 15, the second-most among the 10 candidates running for governor this year. His campaign reported having $751,299 in cash on hand.

Democratic candidate Les Gara reported raising $575,410, with $655,876 ready to spend.

The total of the top three candidates for governor is $2.33 million over the past five months.

All three men are seeking to be among the top four finishers in the upcoming primary. There are 10 candidates for governor this year, and the four who receive the most votes will advance to the November general election.

Voters will be asked to pick one candidate in August and then will rank the four finalists in order of preference in November.

Charlie Pierce, the Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor running for governor as a Republican, reported raising $64,193, while Christopher Kurka, a Republican state legislator from Wasilla, reported raising $12,423. No other candidate reported raising more than $3,000.

Campaign contributions are an indicator of a candidate’s support, but they are not directly correlated with victory. In 2020, independent U.S. Senate candidate Al Gross raised more money than incumbent Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan but lost the general election by more than 12 percentage points.

APOC records show Gara had the most individual contributions and the most from within Alaska, followed by Dunleavy and Walker, in order.

All three of the biggest candidates benefited from the elimination of Alaska’s limits on political donations. The limit had been $500 per donor, until a federal court last year struck down the cap as unconstitutional.

Gara’s campaign received $16,500 from Robin Brena, the Anchorage attorney who brought the lawsuit that erased Alaska’s donation limits. Brena also gave $25,000 to Walker’s campaign. Brena and Walker are partners in the same law firm.

Dunleavy received $200,000 from his brother Francis and $100,000 from Bob Penney. Both were major backers of Dunleavy’s 2018 run for governor. He also received $100,000 from Minnesota real estate developer Armand Brachman, a personal friend of the governor.

Walker received three $100,000 donations from contributors outside Alaska: Jason Carroll, of Hudson River Trading, in New York City; Kathy Murdoch, of New York City; and Greg Orman, a former politician in Kansas. Orman unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate and governor in Kansas as an independent.

In the 2018 Alaska governor’s race, third-party groups spent millions of dollars. Campaign finance disclosures between Feb. 2 and July 15 do not show large donations or spending by third-party groups in this year’s race.

The Republican Governors Association previously donated $3 million to support Dunleavy’s re-election campaign, but that money has not yet been spent.

The is a donor-funded independent news organization in Alaska.


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