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Latest GOP campaign reports reflect a tightening race

Patti Epler

Gov. Sean Parnell has made a significant dent in his campaign treasury this past month as he fights off efforts to unseat him in the Aug. 24 primary.

Parnell reported a healthy $124,000 in the bank on July 26, the close of the previous reporting period, and sent out press releases touting polls that showed him leading by a substantial margin.

Now, with a week to go before the primary, his bank balance is down to $21,137 -- less than what his two major rivals have left - and he's started running dozens of TV spots.

According to reports filed Tuesday with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, much of Parnell's money in the last three weeks has gone to Red Sea LLC, a Maryland political advertising and media consulting firm associated with Club for Growth, which helped Parnell in his race for Congress.

In recent weeks, Parnell has faced a strong challenge from both Anchorage attorney Bill Walker and Anchorage business executive Ralph Samuels, both of whom are traveling the state, participating in debates and public forums, and hitting the governor hard for his absence on the campaign trail and what they say is a general lack of leadership.

Samuels and Walker have both been running TV ads and other media spots and have more air time locked in for the final week of the campaign. Parnell had been absent from the airwaves but earlier this month finally purchased spots that basically emphasize what he believes are his accomplishments since taking over the governor's office a year ago when Sarah Palin abruptly resigned.

All three candidates have been about on par when it came to raising campaign cash in the last three weeks.

So-called 7-Day Reports, required to be filed a week before the primary, show that Parnell has raised about $472,265 since the beginning of the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, about $26,159 of that since July 26. He's spent about $459,000 and said he had $21,137 cash on hand.

Ralph Samuels reported raising a total of about $330,000, with about $21,169 this reporting period. He's spent $296,772, leaving him about $25,247, reports show.

Bill Walker reports total contributions of about $513,000, although more than half of that -- about $280,000 -- is his own money. He's spent $423,130 and has about $25,837 left, records show.

On the Democratic side, Ethan Berkowitz reported $103,421 left in his campaign coffers while Hollis French had $17,709.