Big bucks, shoestring budgets finance races

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2002

It may be conventional wisdom that it takes money to win a campaign for elected office, but not every candidate in the hunt for a Kenai Peninsula seat in the Alaska Legislature and working to win Tuesday's primary is spending hand over fist.

In fact, only one, incumbent Sen. Jerry Ward, who faces two challengers from within his own party in the race for the Republican Party nomination for Senate District Q, has collected and spent a significant sum.

The following figures are available from the Alaska Public Offices Commission and represent income and expenses as of Aug. 20-21. Corporations are banned from donating as corporations, but in many cases, candidates do receive contributions from officials with major Alaska and Outside corporations. Personal checks from such contributors are not prohibited under Alaska campaign finance law.

By Tuesday, Republican candidate Joe Arness, of Nikiski, had collected $6,985 and spent $4,419, while Ward's other challenger, Republican Ray VinZant Sr., of Soldotna, had taken in $2,888 in campaign donations and spent $2,736.

Ward, by comparison, had amassed a war chest worth $81,360 as of Aug. 21, including $10,000 of his own money, and already had spent $62,778.

Arness said Tuesday that he could never "go toe to toe" with Ward on campaign spending and hoped that word of mouth, a door-to-door effort, along with his familiar family name and his own history in public office -- stints on the Kenai Peninsula Board of Education and the Kenai Peninsula Assembly -- would suffice to encourage voters to select him over Ward or VinZant.

Arness is largely spending his own money, along with less than a dozen donations of $100 each. Arness told the Clarion he expected to spend about $20,000 on his campaign for the Alaska Senate.

VinZant's campaign is even more frugal than Arness', and just as dependent on meeting and greeting. He has not held public office before. He, too, is mostly spending his own money and has received seven donations of $100 or less. He said last week he'd didn't expect to spend much more than he already had.

Ward, meanwhile, has a relatively long political career and has consistently been backed by contributions from individuals employed in the oil industry, by owners of tourism firms and other like-minded private individuals.

For instance, this year alone, $3,700 has come from employees of Veco Corp., many of whom have long supported Ward, according to data obtained from the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Other Ward contributors listed by the APOC include individuals employed by such companies as Holland America Lines, Princess Tours, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Udelhoven Oilfield Services, and the Arctic Slope Regional Corp.

Ward told the Clarion he expected to spend $100,000 on the campaign.

The race for Senate District Q has three other candidates from different parties.

Tom Wagoner, of Kenai, is running unopposed as a Republican Moderate. His latest APOC filing includes total income of $3,404 and expenses of $3,139. He is mostly spending his own money, but told the Clarion the campaign for the Senate could cost $60,000.

Patrick Hawkins, of Soldotna, has collected $5,970, including $5,000 donated by himself, and has spent $2,493. He told the Clarion his campaign might cost in excess of $5,000.

Hawkins' Democratic Party challenger, Kurt Loyal Melvin, of Nikiski, withdrew from the race Wednesday, according to the APOC.

Thomas M. Stroman, of Kenai, is running as a Green Party of Alaska candidate. He is the only person in the Senate District Q race listed as "exempt" by the APOC. Campaigns that receive and spend less than $2,500 can be exempted from APOC reporting requirements.

In the heated race for the Republican Party nod for House District 33, where there is no incumbent, three candidates are managing more or less shoestring campaigns.

Kelly J. Wolf, of Kenai, is listed as "active" by the APOC, meaning his campaign is expected to receive and spend at least $2,500. As of Aug. 21, Wolf is listed as having neither campaign income nor expenses.

Likewise, the campaign of David L. Richards, of Soldotna, is listed as having no income and no expenses.

Mel Krogseng, of Soldotna, had income of $7,115 and expenses of $4,787 as of Aug. 21. Much of what is in Krogseng's campaign coffer is her money. Three individuals, including former Speaker of the House Ramona Barnes for whom Krogseng once served as aide, contributed $500 each, several more gave in excess of $100, while five donated $100 or less. She said she expected the campaign for office to cost less than $15,000.

The lone Democrat is Hal Smalley, who is running unopposed in Democratic Party primary for House District 33. According to his APOC filing, he has collected $13,659 and spent $9,102. He listed 81 contributors giving $100 or less for a total of $8,514. Among other donations, he also has received $500 from Carpenters Local 1281, $950 from Alaska State Employees Association/Alaska Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 52, and $500 from the Laborers Internet Union.

The primary race for House District 34 is no real race at all. Both candidates are unopposed on their party's ballot.

So far, Republican Moderate James Price, of Nikiski, says he's spent $524 on campaigning while taking in $674. He said he expected to spend between $10,000 and $25,000 on a campaign for the House.

Incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Chenault, of Nikiski, has income of $36,102 and has spent $13,443 as of Aug. 21. Chenault's contributors include employees of corporations such as Alaska Communications Services, Forrest Oil Co., Phillips Petroleum, Udelhoven Oilfield Services, Veco Corp., and the Alaska Telephone Association Political Action Committee. Chenault said he might spend $25,000 on his campaign.

In the race for House District 35, incumbent Republican Rep. Drew Scalzi, of Homer, is in a tough fight with a Republican challenger, Paul Seaton, of Homer.

Seaton has collected $24,528 and spent $20,623. Roughly $10,000 is Seaton's own money. A commercial fisher, Seaton has received several donations from other fishers. Seaton did not indicate how much he expected to spend overall. Seaton has not said what he expects to spend.

Scalzi, meanwhile, has taken in about $25,350 and spent $16,194. The incumbent has gotten donations for employees of several corporations and organizations, including the Alaska State Employees Association, Veco Corp., the Alaska Seine Boat owners, the Alaska Marine Pilots, General

Communications Inc. and the Southwest Alaska Pilots Association.

Scalzi, too, has support from fishers, as evidenced by campaign donations listed by APOC.

Scalzi said he might spend $30,000 on the campaign.

Campaign expenses typically include such things as office supplies, booth rentals at local public affairs, mail, travel, telephone charges, catering for political fund-raisers, advertising and printing costs.

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