The 2018 political campaign season got off to a start on Sunday during the Super Bowl with an ad featuring Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Dunleavy saddling a horse and defending the dividend.
The ad was funded by super PAC group Dunleavy for Alaskans and 90 percent of the group’s funding comes from Dunleavy’s brother, Francis Dunleavy, according to recent filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.
According to fillings with the Federal Communications Commission, Dunleavy for Alaskans ran Super Bowl ads on Fairbanks’ KTVF and Anchorage’s KTUU to the tune of $4,000 and $15,000, respectively. The group has also already bought ad time during the Olympics with $9,750 for KTVF and $25,800 for KTUU.
The group initially announced that it netted some $560,000 in commitments from four backers, including Francis Dunleavy. The breakdown of those commitments wasn’t explained in the release, but rumors have put it mostly coming from Francis Dunleavy, a former financial executive with JPMorgan Chase who now lives in Houston.
The Anchorage Daily News got in touch with Francis Dunleavy only to be hung up on. According to the original announcement of the pledges, Francis Dunleavy’s support was said to be “entirely familial.”
According to the APOC filing, the group has so far received $110,600, with $100,000 coming from Francis Dunleavy. The remaining $10,600 does come from Alaska, with $10,000 coming from real estate investor Bob Penney, $500 from conservative activist Bob Griffin and $100 from Matt Larkin, who works at Dittman Research.
In the same filing, the group lists additional spending with $87,000 going to ad buys (broken down into $30,000 for radio, $54,000 for television and $3,000 for ad production). That figure includes the money spent on the Super Bowl and Olympics.
Why it matters
The emergence of a prominent independent expenditure campaign is relatively unusual this early into an election year, particularly given that Dunleavy has yet to seal up the Republican nomination for governor. We’ve yet to get a peek into Dunleavy’s personal campaign–or any other campaign for that matter (we’ll see those reports next week)–but as it appears now, the independent expenditure campaign could be positioning itself as a stand-in for Dunleavy’s personal campaign.
Its name is Dunleavy for Alaska (while Dunleavy’s personal campaign is Alaskans for Dunleavy), and the ad itself features direct footage of Dunleavy (though it appears to be recycled from a previous campaign, which is not an entirely unusual move for independent expenditure groups).
Usually, independent expenditure campaigns have featured other people–usually Alaskans, but sometimes actors from Maryland–talking about all the great reasons to support a candidate. Still, perhaps there’s a grand strategy at play that we just don’t understand yet, but some of the early campaigning is simply confounding.
Dunleavy for Alaska ad spotted in the Wild on ig!
And no, its not a video. Its literally a picture of a truck, driving down a road, with a political disclaimer and no context.
— will muldoon (@WillMuldoon) February 4, 2018