Conservative candidates for the Anchorage Assembly have raised significant funds in the last several weeks, according to the latest round of campaign disclosures filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. But with less than a month until mail-in ballots are due in the municipal election, moderate and liberal-leaning candidates aligned with the Assembly’s current majority are generally bringing in more money.
With seven of the Assembly’s 12 seats up for grabs this year, the stakes are higher than normal for the direction local politics will take. A solid left-of-center majority on the body has frequently clashed with Mayor Dave Bronson since he came into office in 2021, and acted to investigate repeated accusations of misconduct and rein in the administration. Owing to term limits, departures, and current members opting not to run again, there are more open races this cycle than is typical in municipal elections.
The most competitive races are in West and South Anchorage, where sitting representatives Austin Quinn-Davidson and Suzanne LaFrance are not running for reelection.
In West Anchorage, Anna Brawley is campaigning on policies and priorities loosely aligned with Quinn-Davidson’s. Brawley has received nearly $69,000 in donations through the beginning of March. Her campaign report shows a mix of small individual donors, well-known politicos, and several thousand-dollar contributions from organized labor political action committees. Running to her right is Brian Flynn, who raised $64,552 in the same period, with a lot of donations from business owners, prominent Republicans, and people working in real-estate.
Flynn reported spending $13,987 on services from Axiom Strategies, a national firm specializing in Republican political campaigns. Of the seven conservatives running competitively for Assembly seats, six are spending campaign funds on services from Axiom, ranging from direct mail to digital advertising to logo design. Disclosures and social media posts also show those six candidates fundraising together at joint events, and participating alongside one another at forums geared toward conservative voters.
The one candidate to buck that trend is in Eagle River, where Scott Myers, running with the endorsement of Bronson and several other conservative politicians, is campaigning largely on his own. Myers raised a total of $44,475, though reported spending $33,128 so far. Running against him is Jim Arlington, who has the backing of a few union PACs and a Democratic group. Though he reported bringing in $22,946 in donations, most of that appears to be self-funded, with $15,000 in contributions from his spouse.
In the South Anchorage race, Zac Johnson reported the largest haul during the 30-day filing period, at $50,946. Contributions came from a lot of individual donors, as well as several current and former politicians from both sides of the aisle, organized labor groups, and $2,000 from the candidate himself. So far much of that money has gone to the Ship Creek Group, a left-of-center political firm which is managing two of this year’s campaigns (the other is Karen Bronga in the East Anchorage district), signs, door-hangers, mailers, and voter information from the Alaska Democratic Party. Rachel Ries, running against Johnson, raised about half the money he did during the same period, at $25,546, with contributions from several well-known conservative activists, Bronson allies, and local business owners.
Though third candidates have filed to run in both the West and South district races, neither has done substantial fundraising or mounted a visible campaign.
There are two races in East Anchorage. The first is for a full three-year term to replace Pete Petersen, who is barred by term limits from running again. In that race, George Martinez raised $21,538 in the most recent filing period, although he had already amassed a substantial war chest by beginning to fundraise early last year. The latest funds are a mix of union PAC contributions, politicos including Petersen, and $1,000 Martinez donated himself.
His opponent, Spencer Moore, has raised just over $19,000. A substantial chunk of those funds come from people working at conservative religious institutions, including Mountain City Church, formerly known as Anchorage Baptist Temple, where Moore works. In addition to purchasing thousands of door-hangers and buying ad placements through Axiom, Moore’s biggest listed expense was $5,000 paid to his spouse for graphic design.
In the other East Anchorage race to fill out the remaining two years of former Assembly member, now-state Sen. Forrest Dunbar’s term, Bronga raised $28,821. Leigh Sloan, running as a more conservative option for the district, has raised a total of $18,812 to date.
Both Sloan and Moore’s largest individual donations during the reporting period came from the same person: $3,000 each from Patrick LeMay, the owner of a business with a longstanding contract handling temporary payroll and support services to the Municipality of Anchorage.
Downtown incumbent Christopher Constant has drastically outraised his conservative challenger, John Trueblood. To date, Constant has raised $63,756 to Trueblood’s $10,435. Constant reported donations from organized laborer, a number of cannabis businesses, individuals, and a $5,000 contribution from Will and Jody Sola. A third candidate running to represent the district did not file a report with the state and has a minimal campaign presence.
And in the Midtown district, incumbent Felix Rivera has brought in $36,297. His opponent, Travis Szanto, reported $19,408 raised since filing to run.
Ballots will be mailed to voters in the municipality on March 14. They are due back by April 4, when voting closes.