FAIRBANKS - Alaskans leaned heavily toward Republicans when it came to political donations during the federal elections last year. In fact, they had the highest margin in the nation, according to a recent analysis.
Alaskans and Alaska-based political action committees gave 88.2 percent of their total contributions to Republicans while Democrats got 11.6 percent, according to the study by the Center for Responsive Politics. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group analyzes campaign funding.
Respectively, those percentages put the parties at first and 50th in the nation.
Alaskans and Alaska-based PACs gave $1.78 million to federal candidates and parties in the 2002 cycle, according to the analysis. Of the total, $1.57 million went to Republicans and $207,000 went to Democrats.
The total includes contributions made to Alaska politicians, presidential contenders, and U.S. House and Senate candidates from other states.
The Republican field for federal office in Alaska in 2002 was dominated by two candidates - Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young. No well-funded opponents challenged them in the Republican primaries or the general election.
"Clearly, our two Republican candidates who were running for federal office, Congressman Young and Senator Stevens, are well known, well respected and have a broad following," Randy Ruedrich, chairman of the Republican Party of Alaska, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "And the Democratic Party has not been able to find a candidate that compares in terms of status credibility or visibility."
Scott Sterling, chairman of Alaska's Democratic Party, said the lack of serious Democratic challengers and serious money in 2002 was due to a few factors.
"I think a lot of our folks just tried to focus on the governor's race and there wasn't a lot left for other things," Sterling said.
In addition, he said, Stevens and Young are so influential in the granting of contracts and other government spending in Alaska few prominent people want to cross them.
"It's kind of sad. But their days are numbered," Sterling said of the Alaska congressional delegation.
The national Democratic Party has been portraying Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, as a vulnerable opponent in the 2004 election, although Republican pollsters dispute that contention.
Murkowski was appointed to the post by her father after he was elected governor. Former Gov. Tony Knowles is said to be planning a run against her.
On the Net: The Center for Responsive Politics, opensecrets.org.
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