Candidates running cheaper

Local campaign costs drop as fewer legislative races are contested

Posted: Thursday, July 20, 2000

This year's Juneau legislative campaigns are going to be a lot cheaper than those in 1998.

Then, with two state House seats and one Senate seat up for grabs, Juneau candidates spent a total of some $656,000 on their campaigns. The main difference between 1998 and 2000 is that this year only one seat is contested.

But even that spot, the downtown House seat, has only two candidates -- Rep. Beth Kerttula, a Democrat, and Mike Race, a Republican.

The Aug. 22 primary will be a formality for Juneau's legislative race, since there's only one candidate from either party to pick from. The other Juneau House seat, representing the Mendenhall Valley, has been clinched by Rep. Bill Hudson, a Republican, as he is unopposed.

In 1998, Kerttula spent $108,000 of her $133,000 total campaign expenditures before the primary, in which she faced Rosemary Hagevig and Amy Skilbred, who dropped out before the election. The total spent by all three candidates was nearly $200,000. Kerttula won.

Challenger John Clough and incumbent Hudson spent a total of $176,000 during the 1998 race, with the Democrat Clough pumping in $109,000 -- with $52,000 coming out of his own pocket. Hudson won that battle.

The Senate race two years ago was by far the most costly. Republican Don Abel spent $99,000 and GOP candidate McKie Campbell $41,000 on the 1998 primary, with the campaign topping out at $347,000 when the dust cleared. Abel spent most of that -- $178,000 -- with the winner, Sen. Kim Elton, a Democrat, spending $129,000.

``I've got more friends than money,'' said Race of his campaign this year. ``There are people who've helped out along the way. ... It's coming back in the form of support. It was suggested I would need to spend $50,000 to pay for the media.''

He's bought buttons and was in the Fourth of July parade -- a tradition for Juneau candidates. He said he's doing a little television production as well.

The biggest cost, he said, is looming -- paying for expensive campaign ads in the newspaper and on television.

Kerttula said an inexpensive campaign ``would be wonderful.''

Asked how much she thought she'd spend, she said it would be less than before, but it's not clear yet how the campaign will develop.

``I don't know (how much),'' she said. ``Much, much less than last time. We're certainly trying to keep our costs down. It's a much better race that way.''

She said her campaign so far has involved speeches to groups, going to public meetings, being in the Fourth of July parade and tending a booth at Gold Rush Days.

Hudson is doing some campaigning as a prelude to his next two years in the House. But unlike the other two legislative candidates, he didn't feel a need to be in the Fourth of July parade. He got to watch. Hudson wasn't available to comment but his wife, Lucy, said he doesn't plan on raising much money this year.

The statewide candidates have until Monday to file their initial campaign finance reports with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Race's campaign Web site and Kerttula's legislative Web site are available through Hot Links at juneauempire.com.



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