Mark Begich joined the ranks of Mike Dunleavy and Bill Walker this week with the formation of an independent expenditure group backing his bid for governor.
Begich for Alaska registered with the Alaska Public Offices Commission earlier this week and made its announcement on Wednesday afternoon. Its chair is Kim Metcalfe, a former Democratic National committeewoman, and the treasurer is Walter Featherly.
“Mark has the experience, the vision, and the can-do attitude Alaska needs right now to address the problems including crime, an unbalanced budget and high unemployment,” Metcalfe said in the announcement.
The group’s announcement says it’s “raised $100,000 in pledges” for its campaign in the coming weeks. Independent expenditure groups are barred from coordinating or communicating with candidates in any manner.
The group’s announcement was critical of both Walker and Dunleavy’s time in office, tying them both to the issues with crime, unemployment, education and the PFD.
“From PFD to education cuts to proposing employment and gas taxes, Walker and Dunleavy have both put forward a communication of policies that will hurt hard-working alaskans for generations to come,” it said.
Dunleavy, a Republican, has the backing of Dunleavy for Alaska, which has been largely funded by his wealthy brother Francis Dunleavy and businessman Bob Penney. Thanks to their deep pockets, the group is already far out in front of spending and fundraising with more than $750,000 collected according to APOC.
Meanwhile the pro-Walker independent expenditure campaign, Unite Alaska, has not reported any fundraising or spending to APOC (IE groups are required to report spending within 10 days of the transaction). Unite Alaska is an extension of Unite America, a national group that has pledged $3 million to support independent candidates.
Still, one of the biggest potential pools of money that’s so far sat on the sidelines of the governor’s race are the unions. Union-affiliated groups put about $1 million into backing Walker’s election in 2014.
AFL-CIO Alaska announced last week that it had endorsed Walker’s reelection, but stopped short of announcing a corresponding campaign to support his election. Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami said at the time that he’s still pushing for a two-way race in the governor’s field.
The deadline to make that a possibility is Tuesday, Sept. 4.