Olson ahead in money race

Incumbent leading Sprague, Osborne in District 33 fundraising

Posted: Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Seeking his second term in the Alaska House of Representatives, Republican incumbent Kurt Olson so far has outspent that his Democratic Party challenger Pete Sprague by better than two to one, Alaska Public Office Commission candidate disclosure data shows.

Based on the latest 30-day report that updates campaign income and expenses through Oct. 10, Olson, of Soldotna, also has a somewhat deeper campaign coffer from which to draw in the final two weeks of campaigning before the polls open Nov. 7.

Also in the District 33 race is Alaskan Independence Party hopeful John Osborne, of Kenai, who has little chance of winning, but whose votes might affect the outcome.

Olson and Sprague are required to file election campaign disclosure statements periodically with the APOC. Osborne, who has spent less than $5,000 on his campaign, falls into the APOC’s “exempt” status and is not required to file disclosure reports. The latest filing was the 30-day report that registered income and expenses through Oct. 10. The next report will be filed a week prior to the election.

By Oct. 10, Olson had spent approximately $35,500 on campaign-related expenses compared to the Sprague’s $16,100. Olson laid out about $5,235 in 2005, and about $30,265 so far in 2006. His campaign income over the 2005-06 period totaled $49,413, including $1,000 in personal funds.

Meanwhile, Sprague, who began his campaign this year, launched his race with $5,200 of his own money. His total income was listed as $25,310.

Major contributors donating $1,000 or more to Olson’s campaign in 2005 and 2006 include Political Action Committees — Citizens for Competition (GCI PAC), Tesoro Alaska PAC, Association of General Contractors, and Alaska Realtors PAC.

Olson also has received $3,500 from the Republican Party of Alaska, and $1,000 from the political organization Kenai Peninsula Republican Women. He lists four individuals as having donated $1,000 or more.

Olson’s list of donors showed 119 individual contributions, including those from his party and PACs.

Olson said Monday that contributions were coming “mostly from normal people — people who live here. There’s a couple from Outside that used to live here.”

He also said he’d invested in a new radio spot currently airing that he called “a positive piece about what I’ve done the last two years.” Other funds are going toward mailers.

“I don’t think we’re going to do any TV,” he said. “I’m glad I don’t live in the Anchorage Bowl where you have to be on TV.”

Olson said he’d been doing and expects to do a lot of door-to-door campaigning in the next two weeks.

Sprague, meanwhile, has taken contributions from two PACs amounting to $1,000 or more as well, including Alaska Physicians and Surgeons and Tesoro Alaska.

He has also received $5,000 from the House Democratic Campaign Committee, plus donations of $1,000 each from Alaska Conservation Voters, Alaska Laborers Union Local 341, and two individuals. His list of donors includes 122 contributors, including party and PAC sources.

Sprague said Monday afternoon that he was very pleased to have been getting support from what he said were a lot of different quarters.

“People are willing to help out because they want to see things change this year,” he said.

The $5,000 he got from the House Democratic Campaign Committee was welcome, he said. Asked why he thought the campaign committee committed those resources to his campaign, Sprague said, “I would like to believe that they believe there is a real possibility here,” here.

Sprague said he has knocked on almost 1,300 doors in an effort to connect a name with a face, and said he would be producing some radio ads soon. Like Olson, he’s already begun direct mailing and newspaper advertising.

An unchallenged Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, meanwhile, has a cakewalk to re-election to his House seat in District 34. Since 2005, his campaign has amassed roughly $45,500 and spent about $22,500.

Chenault has received campaign help from many of the same PACs as have contributed to District 33 candidates. His list of contributors includes VECO Corp. executives who have provided some $5,500 over the past two years.

VECO is thought to be central to an ongoing investigation by the FBI, which last month raided the offices of some members of the Legislature, seizing records. The FBI has released very little information and no charges have been filed.

Chenault was not been a target of those raids and makes no apologies for taken money from VECO, saying several weeks ago that he had done nothing unethical nor had he made specific promises to garner those donations, and has no intention of giving any of the money back.

Olson, on the other hand, has accepted no money from VECO. Neither has he taken dollars from any of the three major North Slope oil producers or from government employee or teacher unions for his 2006 campaign.

Early this year, Olson said that prior to the 2006 legislative session he’d purposely decided not to accept campaign donations from those sources because he knew he would be acting on oil tax and gas pipeline legislation, as well as on efforts to meet the debt to public employee and teacher retirement programs.

Likewise, Sprague’s campaign has taken no donations from VECO, North Slope producers or government employee or teacher unions.

Hal Spence can be reached at harold.spence@peninsulaclarion.com.

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