Thursday, February 26, 2004
Jim Sykes is running for the U.S. Senate in Alaska. He has some tough competition, including the incumbent Lisa Murkowski (daughter of Alaska's governor Frank Murkowski) and former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles. Those two candidates are raking in lots of campaign money from people and Political Action Committees who don't live in Alaska. So, Jim Sykes is going to court to try to create a more level playing field among Alaskans.
Sykes says that "Letting hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars into the campaigns from out-of-state allows non-Alaskan interests to play too large a role in who Alaskans choose to elect." He plans on raising about $500,000 for his campaign from Alaska citizens, and says that this would make him competitive with his opponents if they weren't taking big money from out of state.
With his opponents accepting large out of state contributions, Syke's lawsuit claims that they will "drown out [his] communication with Alaska voters" and will "severely burden [his] right to associate politically with Alaska voters for the purpose of persuading voters to support his candidacy."
Senator Murkowski says in response that her votes aren't influenced by contributions. But, if she can't win election without taking contributions from people who don't live in her state, can she truly be said to be representing her constituents?
The story is available here in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
Alaska is the only state that currently limits contributions from out of state residents for its state elections such as Governor. This law has been upheld by the Alaska Supreme Court. However, Alaska does not have the legal ability to set its own rules for how to elect its own congressional delegation. Congress took that power away from it and said that only the federal government can craft laws dealing with federal elections. So, this lawsuit may be Alaskan's only chance to get the type of elections they want.