By TRISTAN JUSTICE | THE FEDERALIST
In a campaign ad announcing her bid for re-election, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski branded her opposition from the right as an effort among D.C. partisans to buy the state’s Senate seat.
“In this election, Lower 48 outsiders are going to try to grab Alaska’s Senate seat for their partisan agendas,” Murkowski said. “They don’t understand our state, and frankly, they couldn’t care less about your future.”
An honest examination of the incumbent’s finances seven months into the race, however, reveals that, if anyone’s, it’s Murkowski whose loyalty is being purchased.
According to public campaign finance data compiled by OpenSecrets, nearly 85 percent of the senator’s contributions have come from out of state. Only 15 percent came from Alaskan residents in the current election cycle.
In contrast, Murkowski’s Donald Trump-endorsed primary challenger Kelly Tshibaka, who previously served as a commissioner in the Alaska Department of Administration, is funded by an even split of in- and out-of-state contributions.
Tshibaka, whose campaign has been blessed by the state party, has raised more than $2.5 million to unseat a three-term incumbent. Tshibaka is also far more reliant on small-dollar donors compared to her opponent, who is the descendent of a political dynasty. Murkowski inherited the seat held by her senator father, Frank, when he became governor and appointed her in 2002.
Nearly 30 percent of Tshibaka’s contributions have come from small individual donations of less than $200, according to OpenSecrets. Murkowski, who’s raised more than $5 million to protect her incumbent status, is financed by large contributions from individuals and political action committees (PACs) providing more than 89 percent of her funding. Less than 5 percent have come from small individual contributions.
A major super PAC supporting Murkowski also appears to be funneling money from the Lower 48 into the Alaskan contest under the guise of resident leadership, even as the incumbent lawmaker opened her campaign with a condemnation of outside influence.
Aside from closely skirting laws that forbid naming a super PAC after the candidate, “Alaskans for L.I.S.A. (Leadership In a Strong Alaska),” has served as a primary vehicle for out-of-state interests to keep Murkowski in Washington. While its leadership consists of political operatives who’ve worked for Murkowski, public filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) reveal its 11 contributions to date totaling nearly $1.3 million have all come from the Lower 48.