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Incumbents out-raise challengers in funds

Reps. Weyhrauch, Kerttula amass four times as much cash

Posted: Thursday, October 28, 2004

Two incumbent Juneau lawmakers have raised close to four times as much campaign cash as their challengers, according to financial disclosure statements filed with the state.

Candidate finance reports were due Tuesday.

Republican Rep. Bruce Weyh-rauch has almost quadrupled Democratic challenger Bob Doll's campaign war chest, raising $112,000. Weyhrauch's campaign is one of the most well-funded House races in the state.

Weyhrauch's most recent disclosure with the Alaska Public Offices Commission says he has raised $70,000, though his campaign acknowledged Wednesday that the report did not list an additional $42,000 that the campaign previously reported.

He has raised thousands from the Alaska Republican Party, labor unions and employees of various resource industries, including executives of the oil services company VECO. Weyhrauch said his contributions represent a broad cross-section of the state, from labor to fisherman to miners and school teachers.

Doll, who is running against Weyhrauch for the District 4 seat representing residents of the Mendenhall Valley and points north, has raised $28,964. As of Tuesday, Doll had spent all but $61.32.

"It really doesn't matter to me how much money he raises because I could never match him and my basic strategy is different anyway," Doll said.

Doll said he's visited a couple of thousand homes in the district and plans to win votes by talking to the residents.

Democratic Rep. Beth Kerttula, the incumbent for House District 3, has more than quadrupled her Republican opponent's campaign donations, raising $66,191.

Andrew Engstrom, the Republican challenger, has raised $16,367. More than half of Engstrom's contributions have come from the Republican Party. He also received more than $4,000 in contributions from himself and members of his family. Engstrom has spent a little less than half of his campaign war chest.

On Wednesday, Engstrom said he's running more of a grassroots campaign to unseat the incumbent. He said "sweat equity" is on his side in the election, adding that he's designed most of the advertising graphics himself. He said his campaign is more about getting his message out door-to-door.

Kerttula has raised the majority of her money in contributions of less than $100. She has received as much as $4,400 from various labor unions and their employees, $1,000 from United Fishermen of Alaska President Robert Thorstenson and $1,000 from a Southeast Alaska Seiners political action committee.

House District 3 represents residents of downtown Juneau, Douglas and parts of the Lemon Creek neighborhood.

She said her fund-raising reflects the challenge of the race.

"I run serious races," she said. "I think it's important and I take it seriously."

Kerttula said she has raised more in this election than her last because the costs are higher and because she's established a broader base of support.

"I do think campaigning is too expensive," she said.

Incumbency, personality and money are three of the most important factors in any political race, according to Clive Thomas, a political science professor at the University of Alaska Southeast.

"You've got an uphill fight against an incumbent with name recognition," he said, adding that an incumbent with a record of serving his or her constituency can mean a 10- to 15-point advantage. That could help a candidate like Weyhrauch, who served as a member of the Republican majority caucus.

"He can tout his record and is likely to have a prominent advantage," Thomas said.

He said that in a small community like Juneau, where constituents often see their representative at the grocery story, many voters are less interested in party affiliation than they are in the personality of the candidates.

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothy.inklebarger@juneauempire.com.



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