Margaret Stock is running for U.S. Senate as an independent.(Campaign file photo)Fifteen candidates are running for Lisa Murkowski’s U.S. Senate seat. Only one Murkowski challenger, though, has already raised a sizable war chest: Anchorage attorney Margaret Stock. While Democrats recruited Stock to run, Stock insists she’s no Democrat.Download AudioAnchorage resident Robin Smith was listening to NPR one day in when she heard an interview with a national immigration expert.“She just sounded really logical. Laid it all out. And I was just like ‘wow.’ I really liked her. And then at the end of the thing they said ‘and Margaret Stock lives in Anchorage, Alaska.’”Smith’s an active Democrat and thought Stock would make a great candidate. So she reached out.“Actually, Kay Brown was involved with this,” Smith said, referring to the executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party, “because we initially thought she’d run as a Democrat. We were hoping.”Smith says Stock couldn’t be persuaded to become a Democrat, but says the independent candidate still has her support.Stock raised nearly $250,000 in the first three months of her campaign. Most of the itemized total came from immigration attorneys in the Lower 48. Stock says that’s due to her reputation.“Well I’m a very famous immigration attorney, so when other immigration attorneys heard I that I was running for the Senate, yes, they very generously contributed to my campaign,” she says.Stock is in favor of abortion rights and says Murkowski has disappointed Alaskans with inconsistent votes. On illegal immigration, Stock says her position is like most Americans’.“If you’ve lived in the country a really long time, and you don’t have a criminal record, and you speak English and you’re paying your taxes, there ought to be a way for you to become legal,” Stock said. “Not get citizenship, but at least get a green card.”Alaskans contributed about 15 percent of Stock’s itemized total, not counting the $25,000 the candidate herself put in. Several committed Democrats are among her Alaska donors. Stock, though, says she was a Republican most of her adult life. Non-partisanship is a major theme of her campaign. A campaign web ad portrays Stock as a “party crasher.”She first came to Alaska as a military police officer. She was an Army reservist for 28 years. She has degrees from Harvard Law and the Kennedy School of Government, but says she nearly ended her education after her father died, when she was 15.“My family fell apart as a result of losing him,” She says. “I ended up in a teenage homeless shelter. I dropped out of high school.”She credits a school guidance counselor for helping her get into college. Later, as an immigration attorney with military experience, she created programs to help the Pentagon recruit immigrants with special skills and expedite their citizenship. That work won her a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2013. It comes with five annual checks of $125,000. She says it frees her from the demands of earning a living.Why is she running against Lisa Murkowski?“People asked me to,” she says. “Alaskans came forward and asked me to run against her. A lot of people over a period of many months came to see me and said we’re unhappy with Sen. Murkowski.”Stock says Alaskans of all parties asked her to run. The only Alaskans she named are frequent donors to Democratic campaigns. She says others worry about political retribution.Republican Party communications director Suzanne Downing says she’s studied Stock’s reported campaign contributions and thinks they show the fingerprints of former Sen. Mark Begich.“Absolutely she is using Mark Begich’s list. He is helping her,” Downing claims.Stock scoffs at the idea.“He has not helped me raise money,” she said. “He’s a Democrat. I’m an independent.”But, she noted, Begich did give her a contribution. (It was for $500.) Stock said she’d have to check with her campaign to find out if Begich shared his list of fundraising contacts with her. Her campaign spokesman later said by email they won’t discuss it because it’s an “internal fundraising strategy.” Nor would they discuss an item in the political blog Midnight Sun suggesting Stock is using Hilltop Public Solutions, a campaign management firm that lists Begich as a consultant. (Hilltop isn’t listed on Stock’s campaign finance report, but it only covers through the end of March.)Begich says Hilltop doesn’t disclose its clients, and he won’t disclose what projects he does for Hilltop. But Begich did say he’s not working for Stock’s campaign, nor raising money for her.“She’s asked for views from me, and thoughts on issues, which I’ve given her,” Begich said. “And, if anyone’s asked me, I’d be happy to tell them what I think.”Stock did, though, get some Democratic help with contributions. Her financial report shows she hired Katz Watson Group, a D.C.-based Democratic fundraising firm. Professional fundraisers cultivate frequent donors and connect them to candidates. They typically specialize by party. Katz Watson counts the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee among its current or former clients. Sen. Angus King of Maine has also used the firm. He’s an independent, but he organizes with the Senate Democrats. (The Stock campaign says they’ve since dropped the firm.)While Stock tries to shake off party labels, she did work to associate herself with former State Sen. Arliss Sturgulewski, which the now-independent elder stateswoman didn’t appreciate.“It was a bit embarrassing,” says Sturgulewski.At issue was a quote Sturgulewski has deployed over the years: “I didn’t leave the Republican Party. The Party left me.” Stock posted it on social media, with her campaign logoSturgulewski complained this Facebook post suggested she endorses Stock.beneath Stugulewski’s name. Sturgulewski says it implied she had endorsed Stock.“The Stock campaign used it in a good deal of publicity and I think it was done for, you know, raising of money. I have never met Margaret.”Sturgulewski supports Murkowski, and says she would even if they weren’t related. (Sturgulewski’s son is married to Murkowski’s sister.)Without a party primary to run in, Stock is gathering signatures to get on the November ballot.