Alaska News

Anti-Walker group plans big ad push for last days of governor's race

A new third-party Republican group opposing the election of independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker is planning heavy spending for the last 10 days of the race.

The group is spending $150,000 on advertisements on a single TV station, KTVA. Figures for other stations were not immediately available, but a spokeswoman for Walker said their campaign was expecting a far larger investment, based on its review of disclosure forms filed with TV stations.

The group, Citizens Against Walker, is led by the former chair of the Alaska Republican Party, Randy Ruedrich. Its treasurer is Michael Adams, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney who works with the Republican Governors Association.

The company that purchased the advertisements on behalf of Citizens Against Walker, Pinpoint Media, has also worked for the RGA this year.

Adams and a separate spokesman for the RGA didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Sunday. The RGA is dedicated to electing Republicans; it's chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has helped the group raise $72 million this year.

Ruedrich, reached by phone Sunday afternoon, declined to immediately answer questions, saying he needed to "check with some folks."

The Alaska governor's race has already attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending from other third-party groups. A group allied with Walker and funded primarily by unions has spent nearly $500,000 on radio, television, and newspaper advertisements, according to its chair, labor leader Vince Beltrami.


However, the six-figure sums are buying much less air time than in prior elections, with the tens of millions of dollars spent on the U.S. Senate race in Alaska driving up advertising prices.

A filing with KTVA shows that the $150,000 spent by Citizens Against Walker will pay for only about 30 commercials -- a rate of about $5,000 each.

Walker's campaign purchased a print advertisement in Sunday's Alaska Dispatch News to push back against the new TV ads from Citizens Against Walker. The Walker campaign called the group a "Parnell PAC," even though it's not directly associated with incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.

A spokesman for Parnell's campaign, Luke Miller, wrote in an email: "As you know, we are not associated with any independent expenditures."

Lindsay Hobson, a spokeswoman for Walker's campaign, said Sunday afternoon the new group's TV commercial attacks Walker on health care. Walker wants to expand Medicaid to cover 40,000 more Alaskans -- a component of the Affordable Care Act -- while Parnell has rejected that idea, saying the initiative would be overly costly.

"The message is something like, 'Liberal Democrat Bill Walker wants to put Obamacare first and Alaska second,'" Hobson said, adding that the Walker campaign is trying to counter the message through the press and through Facebook, "because we don't have $850,000 to fire back with."

Nathaniel Herz

Anchorage-based independent journalist Nathaniel Herz has been a reporter in Alaska for nearly a decade, with stints at the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Public Media. Read his newsletter, Northern Journal, at