Millions of dollars pour into Alaska’s congressional races ahead of Nov. 3

Millions of dollars are pouring in to support Alaska's candidates for Congress.
Millions of dollars are pouring in to support Alaska's candidates for Congress.(KTUU)
Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 7:37 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Millions of dollars are pouring into Alaska’s congressional races with three weeks left until Election Day.

Dr. Al Gross, an independent who is running as the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, says he raised $9 million in the past three months. The $9 million figure includes $3 million raised over a three day period after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“It allows us to speak to every Alaskan, it allows us to communicate our vision and Dr. Al Gross' vision to Alaskans,” said Julia Savel, a spokesperson for the Gross campaign.

The $9 million in contributions dwarfs the $5 million given to the Gross campaign between February 2019 and July 2020 and is likely a fundraising record for an Alaska campaign in one quarter.

Gross is running against incumbent Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan. The Sullivan campaign says it’s a long way behind Gross in terms of money raised.

“It’s safe to say we’re being out raised and outspent by a margin of over five to one,” said Sullivan campaign manager Matt Shuckerow.

The Sullivan campaign is finalizing its campaign disclosure documents for the past quarter which must be submitted to the Federal Election Commission by Oct. 15.

Money is also being given to support and oppose Alaska’s congressional candidates through Super PACs which aren’t allowed under federal law to coordinate with campaigns or candidates.

Politico reported last week that $4 million was contributed to support Gross by a newly formed group called North Star which has apparent links to national Democrats. A Republican-controlled Super PAC, called the Senate Leadership Fund, has also contributed $5.3 million in support of reelecting Sullivan.

The big spends from outside groups suggests increasing national interest in the Sullivan-Gross race and that the outcome may be tight. Open Secrets, which tracks Super PAC spending, reports that $11 million has been spent in Alaska’s Senate race with over $7 million spent opposing Sullivan.

Much of the outside money is going into television advertisements, including on KTUU-TV, which is operated by Alaska’s News Source.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee recently spent $1 million in ads to be played on KTUU through October. North Star also recently spent nearly $1.8 million in ads to run until Nov. 3 that support Gross.

The Sullivan campaign says the outside interest in Gross shows that he is tied to national Democrats. “Their mission is to flip Alaska blue and to retake control of the United States Senate,” Shuckerow said.

Gross has said he would caucus with Senate Democrats if he’s elected but he insists that he is a true independent who is running only to represent Alaska. “I would just say that there is just widespread momentum, and it’s showing,” Savel said.

While Alaska has been historically difficult to poll, some national pundits are looking to Alaska as a potential battleground state for the U.S. Senate. The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan newsletter, also shifted Alaska’s Senate race on Tuesday from “likely” Republican to “lean” Republican, suggesting the contest is tightening.

“Obviously, when you throw millions of dollars into any equation, it does change a little bit,” Shuckerow said. “But, we feel confident about our numbers, we feel confident about our support and we feel confident about the campaign we’ve built.”

Race for the U.S. House of Representatives

Alyse Galvin, an independent running as the Democratic nominee for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, also had a big quarter. Galvin’s campaign says it raised $1.8 million in the past three months with 92% of donations coming from individual donors.

The Galvin campaign raised $2.2 million in the 18 months from January 2019 until July 2020, according to filings with the FEC.

Republican Congressman Don Young’s campaign would not disclose how much it raised since the end of July, saying FEC statements still need to be finalized for the October deadline.

The Young-Galvin race has also attracted Outside funding. House Majority PAC, which seeks to see a Democratic House majority, recently spent $468,000 in ads on KTUU. The Congressional Leadership Fund, which supports House Republicans, also recently spent $430,000 on its own ads.

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