Alaska political newcomer Vic Vickers said Monday he expects to pour $750,000 of his own money into his bid to defeat U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.
"I think I can beat him. I'm confident I can," said Vickers, who is running against Stevens in the Aug. 26 Republican primary.
Vickers, who moved to Alaska full-time in January, filed to run just before the deadline in June and has had a low-key campaign since. But that is about to change, Vickers said, with statewide television ads starting on Wednesday and running up until election night.
Vickers, 59, said he owns the controlling interest of Eller and Company Inc., a Florida maritime company. He said he's also a lawyer, has a Ph.D. in economic history, is a former Florida banking regulator and has written two historical books on banking fraud in Florida and Chicago.
Vickers said he hitchhiked to Alaska as a college student in 1970 and was taken in by Alaska Supreme Court Justice George Boney, whose brother had coached Vickers in high school football. Vickers said Boney was his mentor and "I promised the chief I'd come back and give back to Alaska."
Vickers said he's been coming back to Alaska almost every year for 38 years, before moving to Anchorage for good earlier this year. He said he had been working on a history of the Alaska oil and gas industry that has turned into a book about corruption.
Vickers said that's what inspired him to run for the U.S. Senate.
"The deeper I got into my research, the more outrageous I found the facts to be," he said.
Vickers' television ad shows him standing in front of Stevens' Girdwood home, which FBI and IRS agents searched in July of last year.
"I am Vic Vickers, and I'm running against Ted Stevens to stop corruption," Vickers says in the ad.
Vickers goes on to say in the TV ad that "I will not accept a single penny from any oil company or special interest."
STEVENS TO SKIP CONVENTION
Sen. Ted Stevens won't be headed to the Republican political convention in Minneapolis, his campaign spokesman confirmed Monday. About nine out of the dozen Republicans in tough races will skip out on the Sept. 1-4 event, reports Congress Daily. Others include Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Rep. Bob Schaffer, R-Colo., who is running for a seat left open by the retirement of Republican Sen. Wayne Allard.
Stevens could still change his mind, but that's unlikely, said his campaign spokesman, Aaron Saunders, who points out that unlike his opponents in Alaska, "Senator Stevens doesn't get to travel around the state and hold fundraisers" while Congress is in session. Stevens has several Republican primary opponents and faces a challenge from Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, a Democrat, in the general election.
Saunders said that Stevens prefers to use the August recess, which stretches into the first week of September, to "travel around the state and meet with constituents."
Also, Stevens' daughter, Lily, is getting married on the East Coast the last weekend of August, Saunders said.
Sean Cockerham reported from Anchorage and Erika Bolstad from Washington, D.C. Read them daily on our Alaska Politics blog, adn.com/alaskapolitics.