With less than two weeks remaining before Election Day, Republican and Democratic groups are planning new online ads, radio spots and direct-mail flyers in a handful of closely contested races for the Alaska Legislature.
The result of those races could decide who controls the Legislature for the next two years. Independent groups, acting separately from official campaigns, are trying to influence the result.
On Sunday, a Republican group reported buying new radio and internet ads for House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, who is being strongly opposed by Democratic challenger Liz Snyder in their Anchorage district.
One ad running online incorrectly states that Snyder “will drown working Alaskans in taxes to fund her liberal agenda.”
In an Oct. 6 debate, Snyder said she is unwilling to discuss direct taxes on Alaskans until the Legislature addresses oil taxes.
The money for the ads is coming from the Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that has spent more than $300,000 this year on Alaska’s legislative races.
The group’s money is also buying new ads for Reps. Sara Rasmussen and Mel Gillis as well as Republican candidates David Nelson and Kathy Henslee.
All five Republicans are in races that experts believe could go either way, and Democratic groups are spending to boost their opponents.
The American Leadership Committee - Alaska, funded by the Washington, D.C.-based Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, has bought $140,000 worth of online ads against Pruitt, Rasmussen, Gillis, South Anchorage Republican House candidate James Kaufman and Homer Republican Rep. Sarah Vance.
Ads purchased by the group and running online say Pruitt “helped gut critical support for seniors,” but that statement lacks context.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed funding for Alaska’s senior benefit program in 2019. Pruitt and other Republican lawmakers were absent from a veto override vote, but the governor later recanted on the senior benefits veto, and the program is continuing.
Other campaign spending:
• The Alaska Center, formerly known as the Alaska Center for the Environment, reported spending $35,115 on ads against Pruitt, Rasmussen and Vance while also boosting their Democratic and independent opponents.
• Some of the Alaska Center’s money is going to a union-funded group called Defend Alaska, which expects to spend more than $200,000 on advertising, according to a list of its debts and expenses. In addition to the races listed above, the group is one of a few to advertise in the Ketchikan state House election featuring independent Rep. Dan Ortiz and Republican candidate Leslie Becker.
• Alaskans Together for Equality is continuing its relatively small but steady support for Lyn Franks, the Democratic candidate in House District 15. If elected, Franks would be the first openly LGBTQ state lawmaker in Alaska. Franks' opponent, Nelson, is being supported by Republican ad groups.