OPINION: Nick Begich III would lose Alaska’s US House seat for Republicans

The third time’s the charm. For Nick Begich III, that means he is on track to secure Alaska’s sole congressional for the Democrats for the third time in a row. It’s a record that would have former Rep. Don Young rolling over in his grave.

There is one fundamental flaw with Begich’s insatiable desire to be a congressman — he doesn’t understand how Alaska elections work. In fact, his quest to find new ways to lose is becoming impressive.

Begich has shown a complete misunderstanding of how Alaska’s unique and challenging electoral system works. After finishing third — twice — with an opportunity to unite the Republican Party behind one candidate, he decided to remain in the race, despite a clear lack of enough support. Thus, he delivered the seat for Mary Peltola by slinging mud and never encouraging his voters to rank Sarah Palin second. He made it clear the only thing he cared about was himself, not the future at stake for Alaska.

This time, Begich has thought of an even worse idea. Instead of using ranked choice voting to Republicans’ advantage, he has declared that August will serve as a Republican primary and the loser will drop out. Such an idea might have been encouraged by Mary Peltola herself, as she sits on $2.5 million cash on hand. Instead of running a campaign under the current law, he has now manifested an idea that will drain all resources and, once again, encourage Republicans to attack each other.

Campaigns need money to raise money to draw contrast, especially against an incumbent Democrat congresswoman who raises millions of dollars each quarter. We can win under ranked choice voting, and we can use the top-four primary as a massive advantage to preserve resources. Or Republicans can drain their resources by attacking each other in order to win a primary that doesn’t even exist.

I know which one Mary Peltola would want.

Put simply, Begich doesn’t understand how campaigns work. Look no further than his filing with the Federal Election Commission to confirm that he has no concept of preserving campaign resources. Begich’s campaign owes himself $425,000 in personal debt. Last quarter, he spent more than he brought in. Any money he raises goes straight out the door to campaign consultants and vendors. What’s worse, he has no backing from significant Outside spenders. Tough look when you are running as a “businessman.”


I recognize that Republicans are at a disadvantage under ranked choice voting, and I hope that we repeal that law in November. For now, Republicans have to work with the hand we were dealt, not subscribe to Begich’s flawed plan for Republicans to spend their money attacking each other, all while Peltola sits and laughs.

Begich is right about one thing — one candidate should drop out. It should be before the primary and it should be him.

Instead of becoming a three-time loser, he should graciously recognize that his campaign strategy does not work. It has not before. It will not now. Nancy Dahlstrom is the only candidate who can win.

Jeff Benkert is an Anchorage resident and business owner.

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