Dunleavy leads in latest fundraising in Alaska governor race

Governor Mike Dunleavy answers the speaker on the phone about waiting for election results at Dunleavy’s main headquarters on Fairbanks Street on Aug. 16, 2022. (Mizelle Mayo/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy leads his challengers in fundraising for the latest reporting period ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.

His campaign reported in a filing with the Alaska Public Offices Commission about $600,000 in contributions between Aug. 7 and Friday with nearly $920,000 available at the end of the reporting period and $12,500 in debts. Democrat Les Gara’s campaign reported about $400,000 in contributions, with nearly $520,000 available and $158,000 in debts. Independent Bill Walker’s campaign reported nearly $460,000 in contributions, with about $470,000 available and about $23,000 in debts.

Republican Charlie Pierce’s campaign reported less than $8,000 in contributions and about $6,100 on hand.

Dunleavy critics have cited concerns about a lack of paid staff working on his campaign. The Alaska Public Offices Commission on Wednesday is set to consider whether to expedite a hearing on a complaint by public advocacy groups that allege, in part, that the governor “appears to be subsidizing his campaign both with official staff’s activities, as well as activities by the recipients of ‘no bid’ contracts with the Governor’s Office.”

The Alaska Public Interest Research Group and the 907 Initiative have also alleged improper coordination between Dunleavy’s campaign and a third-party group that supports his reelection.

Dunleavy’s campaign has called the complaint a “frivolous and unfounded political attack masquerading as a serious complaint.”

This is the first state elections cycle since a split federal appeals court panel last year struck down several campaign contribution caps. The public offices commission has said there are no longer limits on what an individual can give to candidates or to non-party groups.

The largest contributions in Dunleavy’s latest report were from Robert Penney of Anchorage and Dunleavy’s brother, Francis Dunleavy, from Texas — each of whom gave $100,000. Both were major contributors in 2018 to a third-party group that supported getting Dunleavy elected. Both have been prominent supporters of Dunleavy’s current campaign.

Gara’s report lists his largest contribution as nonmonetary coordinated campaign services for mail from the Alaska Democratic Party, worth more than $110,000. He lists the same amounts as expenditures. Spokesperson Amber Lee said the campaign paid for the mail but through the party’s mail license.

Gara on social media touted his grassroots support.

Walker, a former governor, in the latest report listed a $100,000 contribution from Marc Merrill, a cofounder of Riot Games, a gaming company.

Pierce’s campaign in late August released a statement saying he planned to resign as Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor effective Sept. 30 to focus on the campaign. The statement said he had “earlier committed to stepping down” after the primary.

The borough assembly last month released a statement saying in July a borough employee reported allegations of harassment by Pierce and that a law firm the borough hired to investigate “found the claims credible.”

Pierce has run a low-profile campaign since the primary.

Candidates for governor run as a ticket with their running mates.

The general election will be a ranked choice election, under a system approved by voters in 2020.

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