Election finance reports filed last week by Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and her principal Democratic challenger, former Gov. Tony Knowles, show this will be a pricey campaign for the U.S. Senate. But how pricey? And who stands to gain?
Sen. Murkowski, appointed by her father when he vacated the seat after being elected governor last year, has amassed roughly $1.5 million in the few months she has been in office, with about $500,000 coming in the third quarter of this year. Gov. Knowles, who announced his expected candidacy July 8, raised just over $475,000 through Sept. 30.
That's a lot of money. And the election is still more than a year away.
Sen. Murkowski has already surpassed the total her father raised for his 1998 Senate campaign, though he had scant opposition for the seat that he had held since 1980. At her present pace, she could match the $2.72 million raised by Sen. Ted Stevens, one of the nation's most senior Republicans, during the 2001-02 election cycle. Sen. Stevens faced limited opposition last year but continued as an aggressive fund-raiser so he could aid candidates elsewhere.
Both Sen. Murkowski and Gov. Knowles have begun looking for money outside Alaska. And Alaskans might want to find out who is trying to influence their Senate race.
Some in and out of Alaska will argue, however, that this is not just Alaska's Senate race that with the Senate so evenly divided now, the major parties will be pouring major resources into states such as Alaska where they see a chance to pick up a seat.
Alaska, for the first time in decades, now finds itself a star on the campaign maps of Republicans and Democrats and in the columns of political writers.
So, lots more money will be on the way to each of these candidates right up to Election Day 2004. To find out more about who's doing the giving, try these online resources: the Federal Election Commission (www.fec.gov), Project Vote Smart (www.vote-smart.org) and The Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org).
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Oct. 14
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