ANCHORAGE - The two candidates considered the leading contenders to be Alaska's next governor have jumped ahead of the pack in the race to collect and spend campaign donations.
In a campaign finance report filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission on Monday, Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer says she has raised nearly $900,000 and spent more than half that in her bid to move up to the governor's mansion this fall.
Sen. Frank Murkowski is mailing in his report and it won't be available until later in the week. But late Monday, spokesman Dan Saddler said the Republican U.S. senator has raised almost $950,000 and spent $406,422.
The campaign disclosure statements were due Monday, 30 days before the Aug. 27 primary. But the document is considered on time as long as it is postmarked by midnight Monday, and Murkowski chose to file his report that way, Saddler said.
Murkowski's strongest Republican primary opponent, Anchorage attorney Wayne Ross, reported raising about $79,000 and spending almost that much. Because he has an $8,000 debt to settle, Ross enters the last leg of the primary campaign with a $7,300 deficit.
Nels Anderson Jr. of Dillingham, one of six Alaskan Independence Party candidates running for governor, reported $8,714 in contributions and almost $8,000 in expenses. A dozen other candidates in six parties also are running for governor, but most are either filing by mail or have indicated they plan to raise and spend less than $2,500, which exempts them from reporting.
The last spending reports available for the candidates were filed in February and covered last year's money-raising activities. They showed Murkowski and Ulmer running virtually neck and neck as 2002 began, with Murkowski showing $384,500 in 2001 contributions and Ulmer reporting $372,700. After subtracting expenses, Ulmer began the year with about $327,000 in the bank and Murkowski with $320,000.
Murkowski edged ahead this year, collecting about $560,000 in new donations to $519,000 for Ulmer.
A quick review of Ulmer's nearly 200-page report suggests her strongest support continues to come from attorneys, state and municipal employees, teachers, and people and political action committees affiliated with labor unions.
Ulmer's report shows that, with a month to go before a primary election in which she faces candidates with sparse resources, Ulmer has about $422,000 in the bank.
Saddler said Murkowski's balance is about $445,000. Assuming both survive their party's primary, Murkowski and Ulmer have three months to raise more before the November general election.
One of two Democrats awaiting Ulmer in the primary, Michael Beasley of Fairbanks, reported contributions of $1,7000 and expenses of $200. Another Democrat in the race, Bruce Lemke of Anchorage, said he hasn't received any donations and has spent less than $200 so far.
Other candidates include the Green Party's Desa Jacobsson, Libertarian Billy Toien, Republican Moderate Dawn Mendias, Republicans Eric Weiler and Brad Snowden and Alaskan Independence candidates John Wayne Glotfelty, Harold "Sandy" Haldane, Casey Cockerham, Samuel Acevedo Fevos Sr., and Don Wright.