Parnell, French garner most Juneau contributions

Posted: Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Republican campaign contributions in Alaska's capital city went largely to incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell, while Juneau's many Democrats opened their checkbooks to Democrat Hollis French like nowhere else in the state, according to an analysis of records from the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Parnell, once Sarah Palin's lieutenant governor but now running to retain the seat he acquired when she resigned a year ago, is outdistancing all candidates both statewide and in Juneau in fundraising.

Much of that comes from state employees, a host of commissioners, directors and other political appointees who have written checks to Parnell.

New governors, even when they are from the same party, often replace those positions, and the contributions to the incumbent may ensure job security.

"That's not unusual, that's almost a prerequisite for getting the job," said Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, who has watched numerous administrations come and go.

Contributions to Parnell came from many commissioners, including Larry Hartig, Annette Kreitzer, and Denby Lloyd, along with aides such as rural affairs advisor John Moller, executive office administrative officer Linda Perez and legislative liaison Heather Brakes.

Other local Parnell contributors include architect Wayne Jensen, Deputy Mayor Randy Wanamaker, business leaders Wade Bryson, Tim McLeod and Hugh Grant, Republican Party leader Ben Brown and Princess Cruises' Kirby Day.

When Parnell appeared at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce's debate last week, he was speaking before two donors, moderator Murray Walsh and Chamber Director Cathie Roemmich.

Sam Kito, Reed Stoops and Clark Gruening were among those who made choices in both the Democratic and Republican primaries. In the Republican primary, they chose Parnell.

Ralph Samuels' contributors included some legislative aides, including Miles Baker and Linda Hay, both working in the office of Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka. A rare legislative aide contributing to Parnell was Kendra Kloster, with Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau.

One of Juneau's top business leaders, Bill Corbus, primary owner of Alaska Electric Light & Power and chairman of Alaska Pacific Bank, backed Samuels.

A Congressional aide, Rep. Don Young's Connie McKenzie, also contributed to Samuels. Last year Parnell challenged Young in a bid for Congress before he became governor.

Local contributors to Republican Bill Walker included attorney Joe Geldhof, union officer Bruce Ludwig, and Kathie Wasserman of the Alaska Municipal League.

Democrat French is trailing fellow Democrat Ethan Berkowitz in contributions statewide, but dominated the fundraising battle in Juneau during the most recent campaign reporting period between Feb. 2 and July 23.

French spent much of that period in Juneau, serving as a senator from Anchorage, but legislators are barred from receiving donations in Juneau while the Legislature is in session.

French Campaign Manager Andy Modorow said Juneau residents may remember French's more recent legislative service, including leading the successful fight against former Gov. Sarah Palin's controversial appointment of Wayne Anthony Ross to be the state's attorney general.

Among those making donations to French were Egan, all the members of his staff and several other Senate aides.

Additional prominent Juneauites backing French included Mayor Bruce Botelho, Assembly member Bob Doll, economist Gregg Erickson, attorney Clark Gruening, lobbyist Sam Kito, bookstore owner Dee Longenbaugh, former legislator Caren Robinson, and lobbyist Reed Stoops.

Berkowitz contributions came from Assembly member Karen Lawfer, attorneys Robert Spitzfaden, Stephen Sorensen, Eric Kueffner, Bill Ruddy, Fate Putman and Mark Choate.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@

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