LaFrance far outpaces competitors in first round of campaign fundraising reports for Anchorage mayor’s race

In the first major release of campaign fundraising reports, Anchorage mayoral candidate Suzanne LaFrance far outraised her opponents.

LaFrance, the former chair of the Anchorage Assembly, reported bringing in $291,819 in contributions from a broad range of small-dollar donations, as well as four-figure chunks from individuals and union groups. The report covered everything raised from the start of her campaign through Feb. 1.

Mayor Dave Bronson, running for a second term, raised $187,346 in a similar time period through Feb. 1. However, he carried over another $53,117 from contributions during the previous reporting cycle. His campaign is sitting on most of that cash, having spent just $67,802, according to his filing with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. That’s a little more than a third of the $169,368 LaFrance’s campaign has spent so far.

Candidate Bill Popp, the former president of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp., raised $65,495 and has so far spent down most of it, with just $13,857 in cash left on hand.

Mayoral candidate and former Alaska House Majority Leader Chris Tuck reported bringing in $93,881, including more than $5,000 he contributed himself. Almost all of that money is gone. According to his APOC filing, Tuck has $4,424 left in cash, with the most expensive leg of the campaign yet to come once ballots are mailed out to voters in mid-March.

Thursday was the deadline for candidates to file their initial reports with fundraising from the start of their campaigns through Feb. 1, giving the first real glimpse of how financial support is shaping up in this year’s mayoral contest.

The fundraising figures are an indication of where candidates are receiving support, and whether it’s coming from a broad base of individual donors or a smaller group floating a campaign. However, direct donations do not disclose the full picture, as independent expenditure groups can also throw huge sums of money into a race.


At this point in the 2021 mayoral race, then-Assembly member Forrest Dunbar had raised the most of any candidate in the field at $252,000, but by that point he’d been campaigning for roughly a year and a half, benefiting from multiple donation cycles under Alaska’s previous campaign donation limits. Since then, federal court rulings have eliminated caps on individual giving, and in the last few years, money has poured into local political races, with some individuals sending candidates thousands of dollars at a time.

[In mayoral debate, candidates clash over Bronson’s record and Assembly’s role in it]

LaFrance has the most individual donors, some chipping in as little as $5 or $10 at a time. A number of prominent figures from city and state politics gave to her campaign, as well as people in politically adjacent fields including consultants, attorneys and nonprofit administrators. There’s a high number of teachers, along with the majority of sitting Assembly members, many of whom served with LaFrance.

Organized labor groups have almost exclusively donated to LaFrance. Political action committees for local unions representing teachers, public employees, teamsters, police, firefighters and more gave a total of $13,500 to her campaign.

While LaFrance’s campaign has brought in the most money, it’s also spent the most. Between this January and last May, when she launched her campaign, LaFrance paid $61,000 to Anna Hutchinson, her former campaign manager, for building a fundraising and messaging strategy. Along with traditional expenditures on campaign staples like direct mail and yard signs, there’s also spending on tools for outreach like access to the Alaska Democratic Party’s voter database. In December, the campaign paid $18,900 to Lake Research Partners for polling. It also spent $21,334 on photo and videography services from D.C.-based Hamburger Creative, a political media firm that primarily handles Democratic and progressive campaigns.

By contrast, the Bronson campaign has spent little of its war chest on staff or campaign management services so far. The biggest expense listed in its filing is $15,000 paid last August to Dittman Research for polling. It reported $10,723 paid to Arena, a Utah-based marketing firm that focuses on digital and direct-mail messaging for Republican and conservative causes. The campaign reported spending $2,500 last March on consulting services from Starfish Enterprise, a web-design business run by Brice Wilbanks, who ran Bronson’s first election campaign and then went to work for the administration as a deputy chief of staff before leaving last January. Most of the expenditures in Bronson’s report appear to go to in-person fundraising events and sign printing. In January, there is a $2,500 payment to Blake Stieren for campaign coordination.

Tuck listed $89,458 in expenditures, significant portions of which went to monthly consulting and design services. There are also significant outlays for printing services, as well as spending on Facebook ads.

Popp’s APOC report is filled with names of prominent members of the business community. There are donations from company presidents, C-suite managers and board chairs, many of them for a few hundred dollars. A little more than $20,000 of Popp’s expenses have been on campaign management.

Six other candidates filed paperwork with the municipality to run for mayor. As of Thursday afternoon, the state’s deadline for filing initial disclosure forms with APOC, they had either reported zero fundraising or not filed reports.

Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters on March 12. The last day to return them or cast votes in person is April 2. If no candidate receives 45% of the vote, then the two highest vote-getters will go up against each other in a May runoff election.

Zachariah Hughes

Zachariah Hughes covers Anchorage government, the military, dog mushing, subsistence issues and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. He also helps produce the ADN's weekly politics podcast. Prior to joining the ADN, he worked in Alaska’s public radio network, and got his start in journalism at KNOM in Nome.