Forrest Dunbar is full of optimism and energy going into his November fight with Alaska’s Republican stalwart in Congress — U.S. Rep. Don Young.
He’s going to need those things — and perhaps a bit of luck — if he is to unseat the most senior member in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Not only does Young have the experience and name recognition to carry his re-election bid, but he also has more resources than Dunbar. A lot more.
As of March 31, Young reported having nearly $700,000 in the bank. His challenger has about $27,000.
A steady presence
Young’s campaign expenditures over the past year can be described similarly to his more than 40 years representing Alaska in the nation’s capital — consistent.
He reported quarterly expenses last year ranging from a high of $64,700 to start the year and a low of $51,700. This year he hasn’t changed his spending habits much, reporting $59,700 in expenses.
His campaign fundraising has followed a similar trend on consistency, with the exception of last fall when Young pulled in some $175,000 in donations ($41,500 of that came from political action committees).
“We feel very good about where we’re at,” Young’s campaign manager Jerry Hood told the Empire. “We’re going to keep up our fundraising efforts, and we’re preparing for a competitive campaign.”
A different kind of campaign
Dunbar is certainly aware of the massive difference in funds between himself and Young, but factors outside their race may mitigate many of the advantages traditionally afforded to the most well-off candidates, he says.
“A lot of the traditional ways to spend money are going to be dominated by the Senate race,” Dunbar said, noting that it may be difficult for Young to secure airtime for TV ads. “That creates an opening for us to be creative.”
In fact, Dunbar says his campaign will not be spending any money on TV ads, and may consider targeting social media advertising in some capacity.
But the real reason the disparity in cash-on-hand isn’t as alarming to Dunbar as one might think is simple — he has enough to run the campaign he and his team have envisioned.
“The majority of our budget is going to go to travel for us to physically go to different places — many of which that are off the road system,” Dunbar said. “Our fundraising pace provides enough money for us to do that.”
During the first quarter of this year, Dunbar received just under $17,000 in campaign donations. That’s $4,000 less than his biggest fundraising period, which was the first report he filed with the Federal Election Commission in October.
The figures contained within this story are solely as-reported by the candidates and their campaign committees to the FEC, and do not factor in funds spent by advocacy groups in support of — or in opposition to — any candidate.