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Parnell leads all candidates in campaign fundraising

Sean CockerhamMcClatchy-Tribune News Service

Gov. Sean Parnell has outraised his challengers and has more campaign money left to spend than they do in the final weeks before the Aug. 24 primary. One of his Republican rivals, Bill Walker, is staying in the money race by putting more than $285,000 of his own into fueling his campaign.

Parnell reported $446,000 in total contributions to his campaign, including $231,409 over the past six months. His campaign declared the amount of contributions "point(s) to Parnell victory," and contrasted it with primary challenger Walker's, saying Walker is largely self-financing his campaign.

Walker said he couldn't ask people to invest in his campaign without being willing to do so himself.

"I am not a professional politician with an established list of donors," he said.

Walker has received more than $220,000 in campaign money from other people, according to his reports. His campaign said he has 1,000 donors, including contributions from Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins, his predecessor Jim Whitaker, and Margy Johnson, a former Cordova mayor who used to be the state's international trade director. Walker has $89,401 left.

Parnell has reported $124,000 left in the bank going into the final weeks before the Republican primary. His campaign said it has 1,500 donors, and disclosure forms filed with the state show they include Sarah Palin's father, Chuck Heath; Sen. John Coghill; and Gene Therriault, who left the state Senate to take a job as Parnell's senior energy adviser last year. Other Parnell contributors include Rasmuson Foundation chairman Ed Rasmuson, Valdez tour operator Stan Stephens, lobbyist Sam Kito and Jim Jansen of Lynden Transport.

Parnell spent nearly $30,000 in the last three months on Red Sea LLC, the Maryland-based political consulting firm associated with the Club for Growth, and its polling subsidiary Basswood Research. The anti-federal spending group Club for Growth bankrolled Parnell's attempt two years ago to unseat Don Young for Congress.

Much of Parnell's strategy has been to tout polls showing him with a big lead in the race. Republican candidates Walker and Ralph Samuels, unlike Parnell, have started running campaign ads. Walker spent more than $90,000 in the last six months with Porcaro Communications on advertising and media buys; Samuels spent a similar amount through Lyford Strategies.

Samuels reported he's raised about $308,000, with $56,795 left in the bank in the final weeks. Contributors to the Samuels campaign include the Conoco Phillips employee political action committee, Anchorage talk radio host Dan Fagan, Northrim Bank Chairman Marc Langland, former state Sen. Lyda Green and state Rep. Jay Ramras, who is a candidate for lieutenant governor.

Samuels raised $179,000 in the two months after filing for office and $129,000 over the next roughly six months. He said he raised several thousand dollars more at a fundraiser Monday in King Salmon, where he spent part of his youth.

Ethan Berkowitz leads the fundraising in the Democratic primary. He faces state Sen. Hollis French on Aug. 24 to decide the party's nomination for governor.

Berkowitz reported a total of $242,591 in contributions, with a substantial $113,757 left in the bank. His contributors have included members of the Gottstein family, which helped build the Carrs grocery business in Alaska; Anchorage Assembly member Elvi Gray-Jackson; former state Sen. Gretchen Guess; and Tom Van Flein, an Anchorage attorney best known for his work for Sarah Palin.

French reported raising $181,417 and said he has $42,251 remaining to spend. Former legislators Eric Croft and Sam Cotten, lobbyist Kito and current state lawmakers Mike Doogan, Scott Kawasaki and Les Gara are among the contributors to his campaign.

French described his numbers as particularly strong since, as a state senator, he was not allowed to raise money during the 90 days of the legislative session.

Find Sean Cockerham online at or call him at 257-4344.