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Torgerson leads funding race

Former senator is the big spender as campaign enters the home stretch

Posted: Thursday, September 29, 2005

Kenai Peninsula Borough mayoral hopeful John Torgerson continues to lead all other candidates in campaign contributions and spending as the Oct. 4 municipal election approaches.

According to mandatory 7-day campaign finance reports filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, Torgerson, of Kasilof, a former member of both the Alaska Senate and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, has so far raised more than $44,550 and spent nearly $36,850 on his campaign since filing for office earlier this year.

That's well ahead of his nearest competitor.

John Williams, of Kenai, who spent 18 years as mayor of the city of Kenai before stepping down last year, has reportedly raised almost $33,800 and paid out better than $26,200 to run his campaign.

Torgerson and Williams report nearly equal amounts of cash still on hand as their campaigns head into the final weekend before next Tuesday's election.

Torgerson reported that he has $7,715 in reserve, compared to the $7,570 reported by Williams.

Mayoral candidates Fred Sturman and Raymond VinZant Sr., both of Soldotna, have told APOC they do not expect to spend more than $5,000 on their campaigns for mayor and have been designated exempt from filing rules.

The two others in the six-man race have filed 7-day reports showing far less in the way of campaign income and spending than the two money leaders.

Gary Superman, of Nikiski, currently president of the borough assembly to which he has been elected three times, filed a report this week showing he has raised just over $15,000 and has spent more than $13,600.

Ed Oberts, of Soldotna, for the past six years administrative assistant to outgoing Mayor Dale Bagley, has raised almost $14,150 and spent just over $13,220 .

Oberts reported a remaining campaign war chest of $920, while Superman said he had $1,431 left.

Torgerson has already spent roughly one and a half times as much as Bagley saw in contributions during his 2002 mayoral campaign. Williams, meanwhile, has also outstripped Bagley's 2002 financials.

To varying degrees, the candidates have contributed their own money to their individual campaigns. Details of personal spending were not yet available from the 7-day reports on Wednesday, but according to the 30-day reports filed earlier this month, Williams, Superman, Oberts and exempt candidates Sturman and VinZant had contributed significant portions of the totals passing through their campaign coffers.

Torgerson's contribution of his own money was the least.

Laws governing campaign contributions restrict individual contributors to no more than $1,000 in any calendar year.

Groups such as political action committees, or PACs, are limited to annual contributions of no more than $2,000.

All six candidates' campaigns took a swing through Homer earlier this week, including a forum before a Homer Chamber of Commerce luncheon audience on Sept. 27.

The six-man race is expected to result in a run-off election unless one candidate emerges with more than 50 percent of the vote tally Tuesday. A runoff would be held Oct. 25.

At a borough mayoral candidate forum at Wednesday's Kenai Chamber of Commerce luncheon each candidate was asked to give their opinion on campaign financing.

Torgerson said he was not sure what the question meant about his "opinion of campaign financing."

Torgerson said he has run a professional campaign, and that it costs money to do that.

Williams and Oberts both pointed out that a portion of their campaign has been self-funded.

Superman said most of his funding has come from across the Kenai Peninsula in small contributions.

VinZant said there is a way to get elected without spending thousands of dollars.

"I don't believe in taking other people's money to buy myself a job," said candidate Fred Sturman.

Details on individuals who have contributed to each candidate can be found on the Web at www.state.ak.us/apoc.

Clarion reporter Mark Quiner contributed to this story.



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