Politics & Government

Miller tops fundraising race in Alaska in past 2 months

WASHINGTON -- Republican Joe Miller's primary upset of Sen. Lisa Murkowski helped the tea party-backed candidate raise $1.17 million over the past two months, more money than his two opponents combined during the same period.

Miller, who spent a week in Washington, D.C., last month at a series of fundraisers with Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate, also had the help of conservative organizations such as the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks. Their endorsements -- coupled with the backing of the Tea Party Express -- helped put Miller in touch with a wide network of potential donors.

The Fairbanks lawyer also made multiple appearances on Fox News and other national news and talk radio programs, platforms that extended his fundraising reach well beyond Alaska.

Yet even with the torrent of money headed Miller's way, Murkowski's write-in bid remains the best-funded campaign in the three-way race because she held on to so much cash during the primary. Although she raised only $306,378 between the primary and Sept. 30, she has $1.18 million in cash on hand in the 18 days remaining until the Nov. 2 election. Miller has $681,976 in the bank, according to a report his campaign filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.

Democrat Scott McAdams had a strong showing, too, pulling in a total of $668,787 after his place-holder campaign became a real race when Miller defeated Murkowski in the primary. McAdams, who had $398,177 in the bank as of Sept. 30, raised an additional $220,000 in the two weeks following that reporting deadline, his campaign said Friday.

Those fundraising numbers are separate from the $1.7 million in independent money being spent in the Alaska Senate race. Outside independent expenditure groups are playing a major role in the Alaska Senate race and those across the country this election cycle, in part because of a recent Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision. The case opened the door for corporate and union donors to inject unlimited amounts of money into politics.

Among the first to take full advantage of the new environment is Alaskans Standing Together, a coalition of Alaska-based unions and several Alaska Native regional corporations. Some of the regional corporations have contributed as much as $140,000 each to the political action committee, which is independent of Murkowski's campaign but established with the sole purpose of supporting her candidacy.

The committee is among the first tests of so-called "super PACs," political action committees created in the wake of the Citizens United ruling. So far, Alaskans Standing together has spent $960,000 supporting Murkowski, mostly with television advertising.

Miller also has benefited from such groups, including a $12,500 boost on Friday from the anti-tax Club for Growth, which used the money for its online efforts on his behalf. In total, independent groups have spent $794,233 on his campaign. Of that, $596,935 came from the Tea Party Express, a California-based organization that backed Miller after he landed an endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Miller got another $138,752 in support from the Senate Conservatives fund, a political action committee run by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

McAdams has not received any assistance from the independent political action committees -- he also hasn't yet been targeted by any of the groups, though.

In the U.S. House race, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, maintains a sizable fundraising lead over Democratic challenger Harry Crawford, according to reports filed this week with the Federal Election Commission.

Young, running for his 20th term in office, raised $98,710 over the past three months, and has $215,966 in cash on hand for the rest of the race. Crawford raised $51,526 in the same period and has $34,084 in the bank.

See more stories on the Alaska Senate race at Adn.com