State of the Race: Progressive House candidates hold cash advantage in most key races (Part 2)

The House Floor set up for the start of the 2021 legislative session.

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As I wrote in the last post covering the state of fundraising, Democrats and progressive candidates for the Alaska Legislature hold wide to massive fundraising advantages in pretty much every race that we’d expect to be competitive and are nipping at the heels of the conservative candidates in races that would typically be considered a longshot under the old election rules. In today’s post, we’ll get a look at just how big some of those cash advantages are in the race for the Alaska House.

A lot can and will change over the next three months—and it’s entirely possible that a single fundraiser will close some of these gaps—but it’s a good look at the state of the race for the Alaska Legislature, which will go a long way to determining what kind of policies we see take shape in Alaska over the next two years on everything from the state’s budget, the dividend and abortion.

Between the retirements and redistricting (which drove at least a few of the retirements), the Alaska Legislature is guaranteed to have new faces occupying at least 20 of the 59 offices on this year’s ballot (remember Sen. Donny Olson, D-Golovin, gets this year off thanks to redistricting). All but five of those seats are in the House, and they’re a really varied collection of deep red, deep blue and purple districts. This year’s round of redistricting—as well as underlying shifts in political attitudes—moved several Anchorage-area seats to the left while Fairbanks saw quite a few of its seats swing wildly to the right (Democratic Rep. Grier Hopkins getting the roughest go of things with his district going from light blue to a crimson red).

Finally, the big cash advantages held by Democrats and progressives isn’t just a result of their strong fundraising, but of surprisingly anemic fundraising efforts by Republicans. In several races, it appears that Republican candidates have already thrown in the towel… or at least took the summer off from fundraising. In some of these cases, it may have something to do with the candidates Republicans put forward and in other cases it’s just baffling. Either way, they’ve got a lot of ground to make up.

Some kind of… wave?

Even as someone who rolled his eyes at all the talk of the “Blue Wave,” it’s admittedly hard to look at the following races and not notice the massive cash advantages that the Democrats and progressives hold over their opponents. Cash doesn’t win elections, but it certainly helps when the entire election system has been turned on its head when we’re navigating ranked voting and open primaries. Again, some of these races are close enough that a fundraiser or two would easily close the gap. The one thing that cash can’t erase are the underlying numbers of a district, especially when you’re talking about districts with big concentrations of hardline straight-ticket voters.

Let’s look at the races:

House 18 — Anchorage Government Hill/JBER

The race with the most likelihood to flip from Republican to Democrat is home to the second-highest fundraising total of any House race with Democrat Cliff Groh topping $101,000 from 409 individuals, which also the most of any legislative candidate in this cycle. His fundraising total is nearly three times more than the combined total of his opponents Democrat Lyn Franks ($20,000) and Republican Rep. David Nelson ($18,150). Franks has pursued the seat in several recent cycles, coming very close to winning the seat in 2020 without all that much institutional support.

Redistricting has seen the district shift left with the addition of Anchorage’s Government Hill neighborhood, meaning the underlying numbers here will likely give the edge to either Democrat over Nelson in ranked voting. Groh, however, has certainly got the Groh-mentum (Oh, Groh-n).

House 14 — Midtown/Spenard

Two-time congressional candidate Alyse Galvin has the wind to her back and is running downhill to office in the Alaska Legislature. Galvin did well throughout Anchorage in 2020 during her last congressional race and has raised a whopping $118,662 from 314 individuals. Her Alaska percentage is lower, though, with about 75%. Her Republican opponent, Nicholas Danger, has not reported any fundraising.

Candidates (and their fundraising) with opponents who haven’t reported any fundraising: Sitka Independent candidate Rebecca Himschoot ($29,760.24), Juneau Democratic Rep. Sara Hannan ($5,900.00), Anchorage Democrat Genevieve Mina ($13,542.36), Eagle River Republican Jamie Allard ($64,353.32), Wasilla Republican Rep. Cathy Tilton ($23,603.62) and Sutton Republican Rep. George Rauscher ($5,400.00),

House 12 — Abbott

Independent candidate Calvin Schrage has raised nearly eight times as much as Republican challenger Forrest Jay McDonald. Schrage’s got $80,000 coming from 260 individuals and 14 labor groups. He can count 99.6% of his money coming from Alaska. McDonald ran as a Democrat in 2016 before switching parties and has raised about $10,250 from 35 individuals—including Must Read Alaska’s Suzanne Downing (who’s listed at an Alaska address)—with about 93% coming from Alaska.

While I haven’t taken a deep dive into the underlying numbers on this race, I would have thought it would’ve made for one of the better cases for a Republican pickup in the Anchorage area. It’s not exactly like former Rep. Mel Gillis was a particularly inspiring candidate, but McDonald and all his baggage don’t exactly help.

House 16 — Turnagain/Sand Lake

House District 16 is a district that shifted so far to the left that it scared off Republican Rep. Sara Rasmussen, who had a bit of a redemption tour in the Legislature this year while playing the role of Relatively Reasonable Republican. She was also paired against Rep. Matt Claman, who’s just a complete powerhouse in fundraising, switched over to challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Mia Costello in another race that’s shaping up to have a massive cash advantage for Democrats.

Democratic candidate Jennie Armstrong got out to a strong lead with fundraising, taking in $14,991.00 from 105 individuals and two labor groups. Former Republican legislator-turned-perennial Anchorage municipal candidate Liz Vazquez, who is as close to a legitimate challenger in the race, has reported total income of $3,520.54, but $3,000 of that is non-monetary value of reusing her old signs. The remaining $520.54 came from Vazquez’s own pocketbook.

Two other candidates are in the race—Republican Joel McKinney and Constitution Party candidate Rick Beckes. Beckes filed a very late report indicating he hadn’t raised any money and McKinney didn’t file a report.

House 13 — Taku/Campbell

Incumbent Democrat Andy Josephson—who got the nod for the race over Democratic Rep. Chris Tuck, who bowed out of the election out of fears of splitting the vote—has more than five times as much fundraising than Republican candidate Kathy Henslee. Josephson has netted $62,000 from 318 donors with 99.1% of his money coming from Alaska. Henslee, who’s ran for the Legislature and Anchorage Assembly several times, has raised about $12,600 from 35 contributors.

Tuck has always looked like he’s on the verge of losing his seat against candidates, including against Henslee, but he’s always pulled it out despite never running much of a campaign. The new district is more Tuck’s old district than Josephson’s, so we’ll see!

House 20 — Anchorage U-Med

Opened by the retirement of Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, Democratic candidate Andrew Gray has made a strong bid to fill the seat with $26,781.48 raised from 136 individuals and two groups. He’s facing a crowded and generally lackluster crowd with Republican Jordan Harary leading with just $3,956.36 from 11 individuals. Republican Paul Bauer and Libertarian Scott Kohlhaas have both raised less than $500.

House 21 — Anchorage: South Muldoon

Democrat Donna Mears filed early in the process with her eyes set on the potential Eagle River/East Anchorage Senate seat that the Alaska Redistricting Board’s conservatives were pushing for. That, combined with a $10,000 check from Rep. Liz Snyder, who announced she wasn’t running for re-election, has given Mears a respectable $41,865.10 from 138 individuals and three groups. Her main opponent is Republican Forrest Wolfe, who entered the race on filing day and raised $14,400.00 from 51 individuals and 2 groups.

House 1 — Ketchikan

Republican Jeremy Bynum has almost entirely self-funded his campaign against incumbent independent Rep. Dan Ortiz. Bynum sits at $12,878.48, which includes a $10,000 check and several non-monetary contributions from his own pocket, with six other individuals contributing to his campaign. Ortiz, meanwhile, has raised $23,296.15 from 37 individuals and 10 groups (to be fair, more than $5,000 of that has come from non-monetary contributions by Ortiz).

House 22 — Anchorage: North Muldoon

The race for the open North Muldoon seat in Anchorage is led by Ted Eischeid with $20,714.15 from an impressive 267 individuals. He’s got two Republican opponents in Stanley Wright, who has raised $5,675.00 from 34 individuals, and Lisa “Facing Several Felony Voter-Interference Charges” Simpson has raised $10,250 from herself.

House 11 — Anchorage: Lower Hillside

Independent candidate Walter Featherly took the lead in fundraising right before the window closed with $26,000.00 raised from one individual… himself and one group. Republican Julie Coulombe has $19,249.73 from 39 individuals and Republican Ross Bieling has yet to raise a dollar for the race.

House 6 — Homer/Anchor Point/Kasilof

Unseating Homer Republican Rep. Sarah Vance is going to be a tough task, but independent candidate Louie Flora is giving it a serious shot with $61,456.91 raised from 280 individuals and two groups. Vance has raised $30,510.75 from 100 individuals and 2 groups. Ginger Bryant has reported $1,182.00 from two individuals.

Vance has had some of the most hardline politics of any and given that the district once elected Truly Reasonable Republican Rep. Paul Seaton, there’s been a lot of optimism about flipping it into the hands of an independent. That’s already been tried once, though, and Vance won by nearly 10 points… nearly the identical margin by which she sent Seaton packing in 2018.

House 35 — Fairbanks: Chena Ridge/Ester/University

Ah, the only legislative race that will send a candidate packing at the primary stage. Independent candidate Tim Parker is leading the way to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Adam Wool in a district that’s solidly blue with $29,581.00 from 55 individuals and two labor groups. Wool’s chief of staff Ashley Carrick is also in the race with $16,060.00 from 57 individuals and one group. Republican candidate Kevin McKinley has been the party’s favored challenger in recent years, netting huge amounts of cash from around the state to no avail. He’s got just $2,087.50 from seven donors so far. Republican Ruben McNeill clocks in with $4,853.38 from 14 individuals. Constitution Party candidate Kieran Brown hasn’t raised any money and could be the first-ever legislative candidate to be culled by the open primary process.

House 31 — Downtown Fairbanks

Republican Rep. Bart LeBon has seemed like a lock to hold onto this seat for as long as he wants it after his one-vote victory in 2018 thanks in large part to being one of the few a Relatively Reasonable Republicans in the House. Entering this year, he doesn’t have a lot of fundraising to show for it with just $6,600.00 from 20 individuals and 2 business groups. Democratic challenger Maxine Dibert has leapt out to a big lead with raising $16,072.73 from 87 individuals and 3 groups. Still, when the Fairbanks business crowd decides to open their pocketbooks, they can certainly change up the fundraising picture pretty quickly. Extreme-right wingnut Kelly Lee Nash has raised $2,925.00 from 27 individuals.

House 34 — Fairbanks: Farmers Loop/Two Rivers/Salcha

Democratic Rep. Grier Hopkins had a strong fundraising run in the final weeks of the reporting period, putting him ahead of main Republican challenger Frank Tomaszewski. As it stands, Hopkins has $34,494.73 from 179 individuals and 6 groups. Tomaszewski, meanwhile, has raised $22,311.00 from 91 individuals. Fellow Republican Nate DeMars has $15,152.05 from three.

This is a race, though, where all the money in the world will not likely make up for the underlying numbers of the district.

Nipping at the heels

Here we have three South Anchorage seats that have been solidly conservative under the old election system but there’s been hope that Ballot Measure 2 might make these races competitive. The candidates and their donors certainly think so.

For precise numbers, check out the chart at the bottom of the post.

House District 10 — South Anchorage/Oceanview

House 9 — South Anchorage/Girdwood/Whittier

House 15 — Anchorage: Sand Lake

Intraparty races

The final three races worth examining are all essentially intraparty races that, like the Senate ones we discussed on Monday, will go a long way to determining what kind of leadership we get in Juneau.

For precise numbers, check out the chart at the bottom of the post.

House 17 — Downtown Anchorage

House 28 — Wasilla

House 24 — North Eagle River/Chugiak

Everything in a sortable chart

You can see all the data that I used to create this write-up here.

I hoped to create a version that would be easily sortable online but unfortunately there’s some limitations with how Google Sheets displays data to the public. You’ll be able to view it with the above link but you’ll have to make your own copy if you want to sort, filter and play around with the nifty dropdown menu.

*The number of PACs and individuals is generated automatically from the reports. Unfortunately, not everyone fills out APOC reports the same way, so it’s possible that there are errors and transactions that are appearing in either one of those categories.

If you have any questions, though, feel free to reach out!

NameRace IncomeSpend#PACs*AK%CashDebt
Daniel H. OrtizHouse 01N$23,296.15$9,119.30371098.07%$15,754.37$10,206.85
Jeremy T. BynumHouse 01R$12,878.48$2,749.0270100.00%$10,129.46$0.00
Shevaun MeggittHouse 01N$0.00$0.00000.00%$0.00$0.00
Rebecca HimschootHouse 02N$29,760.24$21,079.85155286.59%$8,680.39$8,074.51
Kenny SkaflestadHouse 02R$0.00$0.00000.00%$0.00$0.00
Andrea Andi StoryHouse 03D$12,920.13$2,331.4049796.05%$10,588.73$0.00
Darrel J. HarmonHouse 04UNO REPORT00NO REPORT
Sara HannanHouse 04D$5,900.00$645.8612299.15%$10,254.15$0.00
Louise B StutesHouse 05R$18,950.00$3,918.4533377.57%$21,169.05$0.00
Benjamin T VincentHouse 05R$1,620.00$680.306093.83%$939.70$0.00
Louie FloraHouse 06N$61,456.91$12,481.54280292.89%$48,987.37$5,400.00
Sarah L. VanceHouse 06R$30,510.75$7,195.14100299.34%$24,963.33$0.00
Ginger BryantHouse 06N$1,182.00$122.0020100.00%$1,060.00$0.00
Justin RuffridgeHouse 07R$22,300.00$13,400.2981099.33%$8,899.71$0.00
Ronald D GillhamHouse 07R$12,540.00$6,757.0631175.28%$8,882.94$0.00
Ben CarpenterHouse 08R$10.00$51.4910100.00%$5,476.58$0.00
Laddie ShawHouse 09R$20,407.15$3,672.2271098.28%$21,617.26$0.00
David SchaffHouse 09D$13,682.50$5,962.0623298.17%$7,720.44$0.00
Craig JohnsonHouse 10R$21,155.00$6,929.7939198.11%$14,225.21$0.00
Caroline StormHouse 10D$18,396.19$2,911.3771292.66%$15,484.93$8,807.46
Mikel InsalacoHouse 10L$2,849.95$1,799.2531100.00%$1,050.70$0.00
Sue LeviHouse 10D$2,050.00$832.9711095.12%$1,360.91$0.00
Walter FeatherlyHouse 11N$26,000.00$3,000.0011100.00%$23,000.00$26,185.00
Julie CoulombeHouse 11R$19,249.73$5,504.4239044.70%$13,745.31$0.00
Ross BielingHouse 11R$0.00$0.00000.00%$0.00$0.00
Calvin SchrageHouse 12N$80,081.41$27,325.012601499.61%$53,058.58$4,857.14
Jay McDonaldHouse 12R$10,255.31$3,523.7535092.95%$6,731.56$3,000.00
Andy JosephsonHouse 13D$62,296.65$16,435.62318099.14%$50,816.03$21,621.31
Katherine HensleeHouse 13R$12,599.23$3,042.1335199.59%$14,557.10$0.00
Timothy R. HuitHouse 13AK IND$0.00$0.00000.00%$0.00$0.00
Alyse GalvinHouse 14D$118,662.96$45,381.85314175.71%$73,281.11$6,500.00
Nicholas DangerHouse 14R$0.00$0.00000.00%$0.00$0.00
Thomas McKayHouse 15R$22,990.55$8,309.0083096.74%$15,142.74$0.00
Denmer "Denny" WellsHouse 15D$15,128.00$6,700.4449398.68%$8,427.56$3,000.00
David EibeckHouse 15R$0.00$30.00000.00%-$30.00$0.00
Joel McKinneyHouse 16RNO REPORT00NO REPORT
Jennie ArmstrongHouse 16D$14,991.00$1,808.78105279.60%$13,182.22$101.51
Liz VazquezHouse 16R$3,520.54$3,497.9810100.00%$22.56$0.00
Richard "Rick" BeckesHouse 16CON$0.00$0.00000.00%$0.00$0.00
William Zachary "Zack" FieldsHouse 17D$47,013.48$4,952.591221498.88%$42,060.89$4,094.99
Harriet A. DrummondHouse 17D$34,524.00$11,358.77192592.47%$28,315.23$0.00
Cliff GrohHouse 18D$101,143.09$65,037.61409082.65%$36,106.24$6,369.37
Lyn Diane FranksHouse 18D$20,010.52$8,617.05149195.00%$12,601.25$0.00
David NelsonHouse 18R$18,150.00$4,211.38212100.00%$13,980.94$0.00
Russell O. WyattHouse 19DNO REPORT00NO REPORT
Genevieve MinaHouse 19D$13,542.36$1,882.88103388.55%$11,659.48$17,647.19
Andrew T. GrayHouse 20D$26,781.48$5,482.39136264.06%$21,299.09$0.00
Jordan HararyHouse 20R$3,956.36$1,723.62110100.00%$2,232.74$0.00
Paul A. BauerHouse 20R$445.42$445.4220100.00%$1,622.03$0.00
Scott A KohlhaasHouse 20L$400.00$270.0010100.00%$130.00$400.00
Donna MearsHouse 21D$41,865.10$24,329.96138392.71%$17,535.54$0.00
Forrest WolfeHouse 21R$14,400.00$6,825.2851282.99%$7,574.72$0.00
Patrick "Ian" SharrockHouse 21N$0.00$0.00000.00%$797.00$0.00
Ted J. EischeidHouse 22D$20,714.15$7,011.66267476.07%$13,702.64$2,000.00
Lisa SimpsonHouse 22R$10,250.00$138.0010100.00%$10,112.00$0.00
Stanley WrightHouse 22R$5,675.00$3,421.1034099.56%$3,351.23$0.00
Jamie AllardHouse 23R$64,353.32$32,649.70270198.96%$34,453.62$0.00
Roger L BransonHouse 23R$0.00$0.00000.00%$0.00$0.00
Dan SaddlerHouse 24R$23,193.48$14,044.10119298.27%$2,340.56$0.00
Sharon Denise JacksonHouse 24R$10,997.22$10,149.9153089.09%$2,911.18$0.00
Daryl NelsonHouse 24D$0.00$0.00000.00%$0.00$0.00
DeLena M JohnsonHouse 25R$12,991.56$5,438.7126099.62%$12,525.72$0.00
Lawrence WoodHouse 25R$20.00$20.0010100.00%$0.00$0.00
Cathy L. TiltonHouse 26R$23,603.62$5,926.8170299.58%$24,676.81$0.00
Daniel StokesHouse 26D$0.00$0.00000.00%$0.00$0.00
David EastmanHouse 27R$36,166.00$8,844.4484091.98%$32,321.56$748.00
Stuart R GrahamHouse 27R$970.80$0.0050100.00%$970.80$0.00
Brendan CarpenterHouse 27R$275.00$0.00100.00%$275.00$0.00
Jesse SumnerHouse 28R$10,270.00$4,200.00130100.00%$6,070.00$0.00
Rachel AllenHouse 28R$3,522.39$3,271.09160100.00%$251.30$2,000.00
Jessica WrightHouse 28R$1,979.27$1,684.4631100.00%$294.81$0.00
Steve MenardHouse 28R$0.00$0.00000.00%$0.00$0.00
Elijah HaaseHouse 29NNO REPORT00NO REPORT
George RauscherHouse 29R$5,400.00$3,909.4917368.52%$441.76$0.00
Joy MindiolaHouse 30DNO REPORT00NO REPORT
Doyle Edward HolmesHouse 30R$21,550.00$9,267.6210100.00%$12,282.47$0.00
Vote Kevin McCabeHouse 30R$13,353.62$5,259.4735188.21%$8,096.41$0.00
Maxine DibertHouse 31D$16,072.73$3,390.2387397.36%$12,682.50$11,540.87
Barton S. LeBonHouse 31R$6,600.00$654.14202100.00%$10,947.93$0.00
Kelly Lee NashHouse 31R$2,925.00$1,327.8427096.58%$1,597.16$0.00
Will StappHouse 32R$18,272.05$7,832.8975094.43%$10,439.16$0.00
Van LawrenceHouse 32D$4,991.49$2,146.496295.99%$2,845.00$15,500.00
Timothy W. GivensHouse 32R$0.00$0.00000.00%$0.00$0.00
Mike PraxHouse 33R$0.00$0.00000.00%$1,500.00$0.00
Grier HopkinsHouse 34D$34,494.73$11,247.19179698.12%$26,581.00$16,500.00
Frank TomaszewskiHouse 34R$22,311.00$8,031.74910100.00%$14,767.23$0.00
Nate DeMarsHouse 34R$15,152.05$7,600.1330100.00%$7,551.92$0.00
Tim ParkerHouse 35N$29,581.00$8,833.2855258.59%$20,747.72$625.00
Ashley Ellen CarrickHouse 35D$16,060.00$6,376.7957195.42%$9,683.28$2,500.00
Ruben McNeillHouse 35R$4,853.38$3,140.6914088.77%$1,712.69$0.00
Kevin M McKinleyHouse 35R$2,087.50$976.207090.42%$1,111.30$0.00
Kieran C. BrownHouse 35CON$0.00$0.00000.00%$0.00$0.00
Michael CronkHouse 36R$6,200.00$224.14161100.00%$5,975.86$0.00
Angie "Fitch" FowlerHouse 36D$1,236.55$1,166.5561100.00%$70.00$0.00
Bryce EdgmonHouse 37U$1,900.00$0.000478.95%$12,379.70$0.00
Conrad J. McCormickHouse 38D$2,650.00$500.0042100.00%$2,150.00$0.00
Neal W. FosterHouse 39D$9,034.59$7,697.776598.34%$1,336.82$0.00
Tyler Lee IvanoffHouse 39AK IND$220.00$614.0840100.00%-$35.00$0.00
Josiah Aullaqsruaq PatkotakHouse 40N$15,350.00$16,023.01313100.00%$19,008.58$0.00

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