Revenue differences between campaigns

Campaign finance reports for Alaska's House District 36 candidates show Republican Leslie Becker outraising independent incumbent Rep. Dan Ortiz by about $15,000, mostly through two large monetary contributions to her own campaign. Ortiz, who has not made any direct contributions to his campaign, has instead drawn financial support from a wider base of local voters and state organizations.

Candidates for state office are required to submit financial records for their campaigns to the Alaska Public Offices Commission 30 days and seven days before elections that have ballots that feature their names. The three campaign finance reports that each candidate has submitted to date describe their contributions for the past eight-and-one-half months, beginning on Feb. 2. The most recent campaign finance reports were submitted on Oct. 4, 30 days before the Nov. 3 general election.

The records, which document campaign finances between Feb. 2 and Oct. 2, illustrate the different approaches the candidates have taken in raising money for their respective election efforts.

Nowhere are these differences more pronounced than when examining the entities that contributed money to each campaign.

Since the start of the records period, Becker has contributed $50,000 of her own money into her campaign — just $500 shy of the annual income of a state representative. The funding, transferred in the form of a $25,000 check to the campaign on April 20 with another check of the same amount written on Sept. 28, accounts for almost exactly two-thirds of the $75,159.93 she had raised since the beginning of the campaign.

That funding has given the former health care executive a substantial edge of about $15,000 over Ortiz, who has raised $49,720.95 since Feb. 2, in addition to $9,640 left over from his 2018 House campaign, and who has not directly contributed any money to his campaign. As of Oct. 2, he has made 14 non-monetary contributions to his own campaign with an estimated combined value of $3,685.95.

For the duration of fundrasing to date, a broad base of supporters have contributed to Ortiz's campaign, especially in the last two months of financial records. In the seven-week period between Aug. 9 and Oct. 2, Ortiz raised $26,105.10 from 142 people, organizations and political action committees. Across the entire campaign season, Becker has raised funds from 82 entities — slightly more than half the number Ortiz secured in those seven weeks, and precisely one-third the total number of entities that have contributed to Ortiz's campaign since Feb. 2.

Over the course of the campaign, Ortiz also has received donations from other state legislators: $250 from Kodiak Rep. Louise Stutes, a Republican who has advocated for stable Alaska Marine Highway System funding alongside Ortiz and Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, and $200 from Democratic Sen. Tom Begich, who represents an Anchorage district. Local government officials have contributed to his campaign as well, with Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly Member Austin Otos giving his campaign $50 in mid-June, and former and incoming Assembly Member Judith McQuerry giving $100 in mid-August.

Becker received a total of 96 contributions from all entities, including individuals, organizations and PACs but excluding her own contributions. Those contributions came from 82 unique entities, including former Alaska Republican Party Chair Randy Ruedrich, who cut her a check for $100 on May 13, and Anchorage Republican Rep. Laddie Shaw, who contributed $500 on May 1 — the maximum allowed individual contribution. Former Ketchikan City Council Member Dick Coose gave $100 to Becker's campaign in mid-June, and Becker also received contributions from longtime Republican strategist Tuckerman Babcock. He gave $175 to her campaign on April 30 and another $250 on Sept. 16.

PAC contributions further illustrate the candidates' connections and support. Seventeen unique PACs and organizations have contributed a combined $13,700 to Ortiz's campaign since Feb. 2. Those organizations include the Alaska State Employees Association, which gave him $1,000; the Alaska Correctional Officers Association, which gave him $500; the Alaska Inlandboatmen's Union, which gave him $200; the Alaska division of the National Education Association, which gave him $1,000; and the local of the International Union of Operating Engineers that includes Alaska, which gave him $1,000. Ortiz also received donations from two organizations more than once. Tongass Democrats gave him a $250 donation on Sept. 23 and another $250 five days later, and the Alaska Professional Fire Fighters Association gave him $500 on Aug. 5 and another donation Sept. 19 for the same amount of money.

Becker received six contributions from PACs totaling $7,450, almost all of which are Republican-affiliated. Her largest contributor by far was Republican Women of Juneau, whose $3,000 donation constituted more than 40% of her donations from organizations. Her next-biggest sources of funding were Capital City Republican, which gave $1,500; Alaska Republicans Inc., which gave $1,000; the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club, which contributed $750; and Valley Republican Women of Alaska, pitching in $200. Becker’s only non-Republican affiliated PAC contribution came in the form of a $1,000 donation from a ConocoPhillips Alaska PAC.

When excluding all candidate contributions to their own campaigns, Ortiz solidly outraised Becker, with $32,335 in contributions compared to Becker's $17,341.08. But ignoring the quantity of their funds raised, contributions from individuals within District 36 — excluding PACs and organizations — make up about 68% of both of both candidates' total revenues. Ortiz raised $22,175 that way; Becker raised $11,668.23.

Alaska-based entities made up a large plurality of Ortiz's out-of-district contributors, including many based in Juneau and Anchorage — reflective of Ortiz's 53 years spent in Alaska and his six Legislative sessions spent in Juneau. (His second-largest geographic source of out-of-district contribution is Washington state.)

Becker's out-of-district contributors are also mostly Alaska-based, but fewer than those of Ortiz, reflective of the roughly four years she has spent living in Ketchikan. Accordingly, a much bigger percentage of her out-of-district revenue has come from California, where she resided prior to moving to Ketchikan, and Wyoming, where her husband practiced medicine before he began working for PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.

Links to the financial records for both campaigns can be found on the Alaska Public Offices Commission's records database at bit.ly/3dA4j0l.