Palin leads Alaska’s U.S. House hopefuls in fundraising, but nearly 90% of the money appears to be from out of state
By Nathaniel Herz
Republican Sarah Palin raised the most cash of the four dozen people seeking to be Alaska’s next representative in the U.S. House — but just a tiny fraction of her $630,000 haul appears to have come from inside the state she once governed.
Congressional campaigns are only required to identify, or “itemize,” donors who spend $200 or more. Of Palin’s $195,000 that came from such contributors, just $23,000 was from Alaskan donors, according to Federal Election Commission data.
Her Alaska donations include $250 from Randy Ruaro, a former top aide to Palin who now works as chief of staff to Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, and $200 from Mike Nizich, Palin’s former chief of staff.
Palin, who’s making her first run for public office since resigning as governor in 2009, collected more than twice as much as all the other candidates in the race except independent Al Gross, who reported raising $550,000.
Candidates were required this week to report their fundraising totals for the first two months of their campaigns, from late March to late May. There are 48 candidates in the June 11 special election to replace the late Republican Don Young, who died suddenly in March, though only a handful of hopefuls have raised or spent the $5,000 that requires them to file reports with the FEC.
Palin also reported donations from the committees of other Republicans with national political profiles, including Nikki Haley, Rand Paul and Elise Stefanik. Palin spent substantial sums on mailers to voters and to rent email lists that can be used for fundraising.
Some 20% of Gross’ $410,000 in itemized contributions came from Alaska donors, according to his report. He spent significant amounts on digital ads, along with ads in local newspapers across the state.
Tara Sweeney, an Alaska Native leader who’s held high-ranking jobs at the U.S. Interior Department and Arctic Slope Regional Corp., reported $230,000 in contributions. A super PAC supporting her, Alaskans for Tara, raised $400,000, which — combined with Sweeney’s campaign fundraising — gives her overall financial backing that rivals Palin’s.
Some 70% of Sweeney’s itemized donations were from Alaska, with one notable exception being a $2,000 contribution from David Bernhardt, who was a colleague of Sweeney’s when he served as interior secretary under former President Donald Trump.
Republican Nick Begich III, a technology entrepreneur who launched his candidacy before Young’s death, raised $135,000 during the reporting period. Some 90% of his itemized donations were from Alaskans; he reported hiring two political consulting firms, Axiom Strategies and Red Rock Strategies.
Begich has also benefited from $80,000 in spending by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political group.
Josh Revak, an Anchorage Republican state senator who’s endorsed by Young’s widow, raised $110,000. One of his biggest expenses was $35,000 on polling by a Virginia-based firm — one of the few surveys apparently conducted in the U.S. House race, though Revak has not released the results.
Former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola, a fisheries advocate from Southwest Alaska, reported raising $80,000 and debts of $10,000 to her political consulting firm, Ship Creek Group.
Independent Jeff Lowenfels collected $50,000 from donors, loaned himself $100,000 in personal funds and paid his son, David, $4,500 for “digital campaign management.”
Democrat Chris Constant, an Anchorage Assembly member who also filed to run for the seat before Young’s death, raised $43,000. Republican former state Sen. John Coghill raised $25,000, and paid $10,000 to a political consulting firm co-founded by Republican former state Rep. Chuck Kopp.
Fairbanks Democratic Rep. Adam Wool raised $7,000.