Latest reports show tens of thousands of dollars flowing into competitive Anchorage Assembly campaigns

Anchoring arrangement, Loussac Library

Conservative candidates for the Anchorage Assembly have raised significant funds in recent weeks, according to the latest round of campaign disclosure filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. But with less than a month to go until mail-in ballots are due in local elections, moderate and liberal-leaning candidates who are aligned with the current majority in the assembly are generally bringing in more money.

With seven of the assembly’s 12 seats up for grabs this year, the stakes are higher than usual when it comes to the direction local politics will take. A solid left-of-center majority on the body has clashed frequently with Mayor Dave Bronson since he took office in 2021, seeking to investigate repeated allegations of wrongdoing and rein in the administration. There are more open races this cycle than usual in local elections due to term limits, resignations and the decision by current members not to stand again.

The most competitive races are held in West and South Anchorage, where incumbent representatives Austin Quinn-Davidson and Suzanne LaFrance are not running for re-election.

In West Anchorage, Anna Brawley champions policies and priorities loosely aligned with Quinn-Davidson’s. Brawley has received nearly $69,000 in donations through early March. Her campaign report shows a mix of small individual donors, well-known politicians and several thousand dollar donations from organized labor movement political action committees. Running to her right is Brian Flynn, who raised $64,552 over the same period, with many donations from business owners, prominent Republicans and people involved in the real estate industry.

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Flynn said he spent $13,987 on services from Axiom Strategies, a national firm specializing in Republican political campaigns. Of the seven Conservatives running for seats in the Assembly, six spend campaign funds on Axiom services ranging from direct mail to digital advertising to logo design. Disclosures and social media posts also show these six candidates fundraising together at joint events and participating side-by-side in forums aimed at conservative voters.

The only candidate who can buck this trend is in Eagle River, where Scott Myers, who is running with the support of Bronson and several other Conservative politicians, is campaigning largely alone. Myers raised a total of $44,475 but claims to have spent $33,128 to date. Running against him is Jim Arlington, supported by some union PACs and a Democratic group. Though he reported raising $22,946 in donations, most of it appears to be self-funded, with $15,000 in contributions from his spouse.

At the South Anchorage race, Zac Johnson reported the largest win of $50,946 during the 30-day entry period. Contributions have come from many individual donors, as well as several current and former politicians from both sides of the aisle, organized labor groups, and $2,000 from the candidate himself. So far, much of that money has gone to the Ship Creek Group, a left-of-center political firm that supports the two of this year’s campaigns (the other being Karen Bronga in the East Anchorage Borough), signs, door hangers and mailers, and voter information from the Alaska Democratic Party. Rachel Ries, who ran against Johnson, raised about half the money he took in the same period, $25,546, with contributions from several well-known conservative activists, Bronson allies and local business owners.

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Although third candidates have signed up to run in both the West and South Districts, none have raised significant funds or launched a visible campaign.

There are two races in East Anchorage. The first is for a full three-year term to replace Pete Petersen, who is barred from running again due to term limits. In that race, George Martinez raised $21,538 by the last registration deadline, despite already amassing a sizeable war chest by starting fundraising early last year. The latest funds are a mix of contributions from the PAC union, politicians like Petersen and $1,000 donated by Martinez himself.

His opponent, Spencer Moore, has collected just over $19,000. A significant portion of that money comes from people working at conservative religious institutions, including Mountain City Church, formerly known as the Anchorage Baptist Temple, where Moore works. Aside from buying thousands of door hangers and buying ad placements through Axiom, Moore’s biggest expenses were $5,000, which he paid his spouse for graphic design.

In the other race in East Anchorage to fill the remaining two years of former MP-turned-Senator Forrest Dunbar’s term, Bronga raised $28,821. Leigh Sloan, who is running as the more conservative option for the district, has raised a total of $18,812 so far.

Sloan and Moore’s largest single donations during the period came from the same person: $3,000 each from Patrick LeMay, the owner of a long-term contract company that handles temporary payroll and support services for the Anchorage community.

Downtown incumbent Christopher Constant has drastically outperformed his conservative challenger, John Trueblood. To date, Constant has raised $63,756 to $10,435 from Trueblood. Consistently reported donations from organized workers, a range of cannabis companies, individuals and a $5,000 donation from Will and Jody Sola. A third candidate running to represent the district did not file a report with the state and has minimal campaign presence.

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And in the Midtown district, incumbent Felix Rivera brought in $36,297. His opponent, Travis Szanto, reported $19,408 he had collected since submitting his run.

Ballots will be mailed to voters in the community on March 14. They must be returned by April 4th when voting closes.

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