ANCHORAGE - A top campaign strategist for Gov. Frank Murkowski said he gave up the position three weeks ago because the governor wasn't spending enough money on his race for re-election.
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"I thought the governor was being too frugal with his own funds, in my opinion, and I just didn't want to work so hard on a campaign that was underfunded when it didn't need to be," said pollster and Republican political strategist David Dittman.
Dittman helped Murkowski win his first U.S. Senate bid in 1980 and was part of Murkowski's first campaign for governor four years ago. Dittman said he has worked on roughly 100 campaigns in more than 30 years.
Murkowski spent nearly $187,000 on his campaign between February and July, according to the most recent report from the Alaska Public Offices Commission. His two opponents in the Republican primary each spent more in the same period. Businessman and former state Sen. John Binkley reported spending $843,000 on his campaign and former Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin reported $257,000.
On the Net:
Alaska Public Offices Commission: http://www.state.ak.us/local/akpages/ADMIN/apoc/index.htm
Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com
In the months before the 2002 primary elections, Murkowski spent $468,000.
Both Dittman and Murkowski campaign manager Mike Scott said there were no bad feelings over Dittman's departure.
"The governor is frugal. So I'd say that's a fair statement," Scott said. "But a lot of Dave's ideas and things, he's contributed those already and we're still using and following them."
Dittman said he still believes Murkowski can come out ahead of Binkley and Palin in the Republican primary on Aug. 22.
"I hope it's never, ever considered leaving a sinking ship, because I think he's got a good shot at it," he said.