Voters fill out their ballots at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, Alaska on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Voters fill out their ballots at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, Alaska on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Bjorkman leads local campaign finance pack, reports show

The reports, due Feb. 15 for candidates running for state office in 2024, offer a glimpse at the position from which candidates will start this election year

Incumbent Alaska State Sen. Jesse Bjorkman is the local financial front-runner at the outset of the 2024 campaign season, campaign finance reports filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission show.

The reports, due Feb. 15 for candidates running for state office in 2024, offer a glimpse at the position from which candidates will start this election year. Reports are also due 30 days, seven days and then 24 hours before the state primary election on Aug. 20. Additional campaign finance reports are due leading up to the Nov. 5 general election.

Bjorkman, whose district includes the Kenai Peninsula north of Tustumena Lake, raised nearly $50,000 between June 27, 2023, and Feb. 1, 2024. That makes him one of the highest earning candidates this reporting period.

Bjorkman has received contributions from 20 political action committees, or PACs, including the Pacific Seafood Processors PAC, the Alaska Miners Association, the Alaska Professional Firefighters Association and the Enstar Employee PAC.

Those are in addition to the Alaska Laborers’ Political and Education Committee, Employees Political Information Committee, Teamsters ALIVE, AFL-CIO, Alaska Laborers Local 341, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 1547, Alaska Realtors Political Action and National Education Association-Alaska PACE.

Bjorkman’s to-date campaign contributions also include $1,000 each from Lynden Incorporated CEO Jim Jansen, Alaska Sen. Cathy Giessel and $2,500 from John Ellsworth in Anchorage. He’s also got the financial support of four Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members, multiple Cook Inlet commercial fishermen and more than one dozen teachers.

Challenger Ben Carpenter, who has represented the northern Kenai Peninsula in the Alaska House since 2019, has raised just over $5,100 since launching his campaign for State Senate in mid-November 2023. Carpenter started the reporting period with about $6,200 cash on hand and has reported about $1,600 worth of expenses, leaving his campaign with about $10,200.

Among those supporting Carpenter financially are Tuckerman and Kristie Babcock, who have donated a combined $1,300, Barbara and Norm Blakely, who’ve donated $250 and Jennifer and Ray Chumley, who’ve donated $500. Carpenter has also received $1,000 from the Republican Women of the Kenai and $500 each from Alaska Republicans Inc, District 7 and Alaska Republicans Inc, District 8.

Andy Cizek has not yet reported any campaign income or expenditures since registering to run on Nov. 5, 2023.

So far, there is not a large cash flow into the race for the Alaska House District 8 seat currently held by Ben Carpenter, who is not running for reelection. That district includes the communities of Nikiski, Hope, Sterling and Moose Pass, among others.

John Hillyer, of Soldotna, has not yet raised any money for his campaign, launched on Nov. 13, 2023, but has spent just over $200 on candidacy filing fees and a campaign website. Bill Elam, who announced his candidacy last month, has put about $250 of his own money into his campaign, so far spent on candidate registration fees and a campaign website.

In his bid for reelection to the Alaska House seat that represents Kenai and Soldotna, Justin Ruffridge, as of Friday at 3 p.m., was running unopposed. Between Dec. 14, 2023, and Jan. 14, 2024, Ruffridge raised $4,650. That amount includes $1,850 of his own money, as well as $500 from former Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, $200 from Soldotna Vice Mayor Lisa Parker and $1,000 from former Soldotna City Council member and Davis Block and Concrete Inc. Vice President Regina Daniels.

Incumbent Alaska House District 6 candidate Sarah Vance, who represents the communities of Kasilof, Homer and Seldovia, has raised $6,275 since February 2023 in her bid for reelection. The fundraising amount is in addition to just over $5,000 cash on hand that Vance started the reporting period with. Combined with roughly $333 in expenses, Vance’s campaign is about $11,000 in the green.

Among Vance’s financial backers are Kenai Peninsula Borough School District school board member Kelley Cizek, also Andy’s wife, who donated $100 on Jan. 6. Homer Electric Association CEO Brad Janorschke gave Vance $150 in November and Maggie and Robert Boone, of Homer, each contributed $1,000. Most of her spending has been on fees from Texas-based donation platform Anedot.

Michael Daniel, whose campaign for the state House seat currently held by Sarah Vance ran from Dec. 11, 2023, to Jan. 24, 2024, raised $625 from four donors. As of Feb. 1, 2024, all of that money had been spent, mostly on services from Juggernaut Consulting in Homer, owned by Daniel’s former campaign lead Peter Zuyus.

Dawson Slaughter, who entered the race following Daniel’s withdrawal and with Daniel’s endorsement, has not yet reported any campaign income.

All campaign finance reports can be found on the Alaska Public Offices Commission website at aws.state.ak.us/apocreports.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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