Both parties pour millions more into Alaska's surprisingly competitive Senate race

Both parties pour millions more into Alaska's surprisingly competitive Senate race
Sen. Dan Sullivan, introduces the TAPS Senator Ted Stevens Leadership Awardee; Angel Pansini, surviving sister of Marine Corps Sgt. Nicholas Anthony Pansini, during the 2019 Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) Honor Guard Gala at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C., March 6, 2019. TAPS is a not-for-profit organization that has assisted over 70,000 surviving family members grieving the loss of an armed forces service-member. (DoD Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)

While Alaska's U.S. Senate race looked like just an afterthought for both parties as recently as a few months ago, major outside groups on each side are continuing to book millions here just weeks ahead of Election Day.

Politico's James Arkin reports that a newly established Democratic group called North Star has launched a $4 million ad buy in support of Al Gross, an independent who is running as the Democratic nominee. The first ad stars a local breast cancer survivor, and she takes Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan to task for voting to let insurance companies deny coverage due to preexisting conditions. Arkin also reports that the conservative Senate Leadership Fund will spend $3.7 million here to protect Sullivan, which would bring the super PAC's total planned spending for this race to $5.3 million.

While SLF's investment gives Sullivan's side more firepower, the incumbent is still being very badly outspent. OpenSecrets reports that Gross' allies have already spent $6.6 million in this race, a figure that doesn't yet account for North Star's new offensive, while the only major pro-Sullivan spending was the aforementioned $1.5 million buy from SLF.

Gross also announced that he raised a massive $9 million during the third quarter of 2020—over $1 million more that Sullivan brought in during his entire 2014 campaign. Sullivan hasn't announced his own haul, but Arkin writes that his campaign "has said they expect to be outraised and outspent by a staggering, five-to-one margin."

All of this spending comes despite the fact that very few polls have been released here over the last month, though the few numbers we've seen have shown a close race. In late September, a Harstad Research poll for Al Gross' allies at Independent Alaska showed Sullivan up just 46-45. Donald Trump also led only 47-46, which is not only a big drop from his 51-37 victory here in 2016, it would be the closest presidential contest ever in the Last Frontier state, narrowly topping Richard Nixon's 51-49 win over John F. Kennedy in 1960.

The local firm Alaska Survey Research also released its own poll recently that showed Sullivan and Trump up 48-44 and 50-46, respectively.


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