The first round of campaign donation disclosure statements is in for state candidates, and local Republican Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch has raised more than all the other Juneau candidates combined.
Weyhrauch's $51,487 in campaign contributions spans an array of industry and private donations. He faces Democrat Bob Doll in the campaign for the House District 4, which represents residents of the Mendenhall Valley and points north. The primary election is set for Aug. 24 and the state general election is on Nov. 2.
Doll, former general manager of the Alaska Marine Highway System, has raised $9,303 and spent $5,558. Aside from a $5,000 contribution from the local Democratic Party, Doll has raised money largely from individuals.
"I fully expect (Weyhrauch) will raise more money and have more money at his disposal throughout this election, and that it will come from organizations," Doll said.
More than half of Weyhrauch's contributions are $100 or less, but he also has gained donations of several hundred dollars or more from fishing, construction, oil and other interests. He received $1,500 in individual donations from top employees of Anchorage oil field services company Veco.
"I guess the special interests range from individuals to unions to construction companies to people who want to develop mines to people interested in family issues," Weyhrauch said. "It shows a broad range of support."
Doll said while campaigning door-to-door he's heard many Republicans voice their dissatisfaction with the current Republican administration.
"I believe there is a Republican constituency out there to which I need to make an appeal," Doll said. "I think their analysis of the Murkowski administration and the majority in the Legislature is much the same as my own - that is, of a dysfunctional government that is chipping away at all of the edges of the services that people expect, that is unable to solve the fiscal crisis."
Democratic incumbent Beth Kerttula faces political newcomer Andrew Engstrom in the race for House District 3, which covers downtown, Douglas, Lemon Creek and some neighborhoods near the airport.
Kerttula already has raised $20,301 and spent $15,604. That's more than three times Engstrom's total campaign contributions of $5,075.
Earlier in the race Engstrom filed under exempt status with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, the state entity that regulates campaign contributions. That means he would not have to declare contributions unless he collected more than $5,000.
Engstrom said he retracted the exempt-status filing now that he's reached the $5,000 threshold.
Engstrom's and Kerttula's contributions typically come from individuals.
Engstrom questioned Kerttula's use of more than $800 in contributions to travel to Anchorage for the state Democratic convention.
"I think I can win the election and be more conservative on my spending," he said.
Engstrom said he would have paid for the expense with his own money, not donors'. Brooke Miles, executive director for APOC, said state statute permits candidates to use up to $1,000 for traveling to conventions.
Kerttula said she thought it would have been wrong to not declare the expenditure, considering she actively campaigned at the event.
"If you are at a Democratic convention, you are absolutely campaigning," she said. "People gave me donations and talked to me about my campaign. I felt like on the balance it is more forthright to report it and that's the most honest way to do it."
Engstrom said he's held one fund-raiser and plans to hold more as the November general election approaches.
"I'm not going to beat people over the head for funds," he said.
Kerttula said she, too, has held one fund-raiser this year.
"I just always run very hard," she said. "I take every candidate seriously and I take this candidate seriously."
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