JUNEAU (AP) — The Republican Governors Association said it is reserving ad time in Alaska for the final weeks of this year’s governor’s race.
The group said it sees the race as a “top pick-up opportunity” for Republicans.
The RGA said the ad buy is scheduled for the final six weeks of the general election and worth $1.5 million.
Gov. Bill Walker changed his party affiliation from Republican to undeclared in joining with Byron Mallott as part of a so-called unity ticket in 2014, upsetting then-Gov. Sean Parnell, a Republican.
The RGA that year donated to a third-party group formed to oppose Walker’s election, Citizens Against Walker. The treasurer of that group was a Washington, D.C.-based attorney who has worked with the RGA.
Numerous Republicans have either filed as candidates or expressed interest in running for governor this year, including former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy, state Rep. Mike Chenault and businessman Scott Hawkins.
So far, no Democrats have filed with the Division of Elections as candidates for governor. The filing deadline is June 1.
Lindsay Hobson, a campaign spokeswoman for Walker, said Monday that the RGA’s booking of air time shows it’s a race the group will be fighting for.
The challenge of outside dollars coming into the race is one the campaign has faced before, and it will be prepared, she said.
“We’re going to have to work harder, work longer to get our message out to Alaskans,” she said. The campaign is pleased with its fundraising so far, she said.
Walker unsuccessfully pushed for new or increased taxes to help fill a state deficit that has persisted amid low oil prices, and he cut in half the size of check Alaskans received from the state’s oil-wealth fund in 2016. Lawmakers similarly limited the size of the check last year.
How that check — the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend — is calculated in the future is shaping up to be a hot-button election-year issue.