ANCHORAGE - Democrat Scott McAdams knows he can't compete against the nearly $2 million that incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has in hand for this year's election.
So, he says he'll do it the old-fashioned, Alaska way.
"Can a small-town mayor stand against a well-funded, sitting incumbent senator?" he asked Tuesday, shortly after filing his papers in Anchorage. "Maybe not in California or Illinois, but I believe in Alaska, we're 165 small towns, even Anchorage."
McAdams, the mayor of Sitka and director of community schools for the school district, is planning to work his day job, be mayor at night and and leave town every weekend to campaign until the November general election.
"I think you win hearts and minds in this state one conversation at a time," McAdams said. "This is not the Chicago, New York or L.A. media markets. This is Alaska. We live in a state that once elected a grocer from Valdez and a bush pilot from Bristol Bay governor," he said.
Murkowski, a Republican, is seeking her second full-term. She was appointed to office by her father, former U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, when he was elected governor in 2002. She won her first Senate election in 2004.
Former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' election loss to Democrat Mark Begich in 2008 has left Murkowski as the state's senior senator. She is the top Republican on the U.S. Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Murkowski's rising star on the national stage provided fodder for McAdams on Tuesday.
"I think the national party has become more and more important, almost to the point where I think ambition for leadership at the national level has become as important as advancing the local needs of Alaska communities," he said.
Murkowski spokesman Steve Wackowski said in an e-mail that the senator dedicates herself daily to earning the privilege of serving Alaskans.
"Elections are critical to a robust democracy, and any individual willing to file for public office reveals a commitment to get involved in our democratic process," Wackowski wrote.
Both McAdams and Murkowski face primary challengers in the Aug. 24 primary.
Fairbanks lawyer Joe Miller, a self-described "constitutional conservative," has received an endorsement from Palin, but not from former Gov. Sarah Palin. Instead, her husband Todd Palin has attended a fundraiser for Miller in Wasilla.
McAdams faces two opponents in the primary, Frank Vondersaar and Jacob Seth Kern, who also filed Tuesday before the deadline for this year's election.
Also seeking the office is Libertarian Fredrick "David" Haase.