Joe Miller's Palin-Backed Alaska Campaign Lacks Traditional Seattle 'Third Senator' Money

Joe and his gal
Among those hoping Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski makes an unlikely comeback as a write-in candidate in Alaska's general election against GOP/Tea Party candidate Joe Miller are the many Seattle-area contributors to Murkowski's campaign, among them former Sen. Slade Gorton and a host of seafood-industry leaders and employees dependent on the Alaska fishery for their livelihoods.

Nearly 100 Washingtonians gave Murkowski a total $103,050 in 2010, hoping to maintain her supportive voice in D.C., only to see the incumbent knocked out by the upstart, Sarah Palin-powered Miller. With the defeat (and death) of venerable Sen. Ted Stevens and now the primary election loss by Murkowski, Washington seems to have lost its "third senator" advantage.

During Stevens' reign, and to a lesser extent during the Murkowski years, Seattle-area donors contributed mightily to the Alaska Republicans in return for their support of laws and measures that favored Seattle-based fishers and processors and the aerospace industry. In 2002, for example, Stevens raked in $220,000 from the Seattle area, with the Boeing Co. as one of his leading supporters. (Percentage-wise, he raised more here that election that did hometown Sen. Maria Cantwell).

Among Murkowski's backers this election, Trident Seafoods chair and fish-stick king Chuck Bundrant gave so much he had to take some back. He donated $5,300 in three primary and general-election contributions, $2,000 over the election-cycle limit; that amount was returned to him. Similarly, Alyeska Seafoods chair Alec Brindle donated $4,000, and $700 had to be returned. Ex-senator Gorton gave $500.

None of Murkowski's supporters seem to have crossed over to the Miller camp, so far, according to the latest campaign filings. Miller's biggest backer remains Sarah Palin's PAC ($5,000), and he won the primary with a comparatively lean treasury (just under $300,000) compared to Murkowski's 2005-20010 donation total of $3.5 million. (She is raising new money and using what's left of the earlier donations, including the Seattle contributions, to fund her write-in run).

But then, Miller hasn't said much about aiding Seattle or even Alaska fishing and aerospace interests, focusing on cutting back on federal handouts so highly prized by porkbarreller Stevens, it seems. As he said when Murkowski announced her write-in candidacy, "I believe the federal government has gone too far. I want to rein in federal spending, roll back excessive regulation, AND reduce taxes. Some call these views extreme; I call them common sense."

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