From left to right, Steve Handy, Sara Hannan and Tom Morphet are running for the Democratic nomination in Alaska House District 33. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire photos)

From left to right, Steve Handy, Sara Hannan and Tom Morphet are running for the Democratic nomination in Alaska House District 33. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire photos)

Candidates amass cash with eye toward November

Nankervis, Dimond and Kiehl lead in fundraising for Juneau’s legislative seats

Alaska’s statewide primary election isn’t until Tuesday, but in Juneau, candidates appear to already be looking ahead to November’s general election.

According to the latest figures from the Alaska Public Offices Commission, legislative candidates unchallenged in the primary have accrued significant cash reserves for advertising, travel and voter outreach in the two and a half months before Nov. 6.

Republican Jerry Nankervis leads all local candidates, having raised more than $71,000 since announcing his campaign last year. Nankervis benefited from that early start: APOC bases its contribution limits on the calendar year, meaning Nankervis backers have had two opportunities to donate the maximum allowed by state law.

Nankervis is also receiving significant support from the Republican Party, which sees House District 34 as one piece of a path toward a Republican majority in the Alaska House of Representatives. In 2016, the surprise victory of Democratic candidate Justin Parish helped Democrats construct a coalition majority that includes moderate Republicans and independents.

Nankervis, Juneau’s deputy mayor, is seen by Republicans as a strong candidate to replace Parish, who is not running for re-election. The Republican Women of Juneau, a powerful political organization, has donated $15,500 to Nankervis’ campaign — by far the most of any single organization. The Alaska Republican Party has contributed $2,500 to Nankervis, and the Capital City Republicans have added $1,000, as have the Associated General Contractors and the ConocoPhillips Employee PAC.

Alaska Democrats are also pouring money into the race by backing their choice for District 34, school board member Andi Story.

Story has raised just under $35,000 despite starting her campaign much later than Nankervis. Among her contributions is $5,000 from the House Democratic Campaign Committee, the statewide Democratic organ that supports candidates for the Alaska House.

Story is being challenged in Tuesday’s Democratic primary by independent Rob Edwardson, who formerly served as Parish’s chief of staff. Edwardson has raised $7,818, according to APOC figures, and is not being backed by the state party.

He does have substantial support from Juneau’s Native leaders. Anthony Mallott, CEO of Sealaska Corp. has donated $500 (the legal maximum) to Edwardson’s campaign, as has Amanda Mallott. Other Sealaska and Tlingit and Haida leaders have also made significant contributions.

Nankervis has spent less than a third of his campaign warchest so far: He has more than $50,000 in cash on hand for post-primary advertising and signs. Story has spent almost exactly the same amount as Nankervis, but because of her smaller fundraising haul, has just $14,161 on hand. Edwardson has $1,216 in cash on hand.

In downtown Juneau’s House district 33, independent Chris Dimond (who is not on Tuesday’s primary ballot) holds a major fundraising lead, with $60,104 collected through Aug. 11. Since then, he has reported another $1,300 in contributions. Dimond has spent heavily in the early going to build awareness of his campaign: He has about $30,000 remaining from his fundraising, which includes significant contributions from almost every major blue-collar union in Alaska.

The three Democrats competing for the party’s nomination in District 33 have combined fundraising totals less than Dimond’s. The leader is retired teacher Sara Hannan, who has received contributions from several sitting Democratic lawmakers and from the National Education Association’s PAC. She has raised just under $34,000 through Aug. 11 and has about $15,000 remaining.

No. 2 by fundraising tally is former Chilkat Valley News publisher Tom Morphet, who has accumulated $8,248 in campaign contributions and has about $2,200 in cash remaining. Steve Handy of Douglas has raised $1,535 through Aug. 11.

There are two candidates for Senate District Q, which covers both House districts. Democrat Jesse Kiehl is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination and had raised $68,490 through Aug. 11. That tally was boosted by $10,000 from the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee.

In the general election, Kiehl will face independent Don Etheridge, a former union lobbyist. Etheridge has raised $30,295.

Kiehl’s spending has been lighter than Etheridge’s to date; Kiehl still has more than $50,000 in his campaign accounts, Etheridge has $10,696.

The primary election is Aug. 21. The general election is Nov. 6.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at jbrooks@juneauempire.com or 523-2258.


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