Politics

Nancy Dahlstrom, Alaska’s corrections commissioner, will be Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s running mate

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has chosen his corrections commissioner, Nancy Dahlstrom, as his running mate for this year’s gubernatorial election.

Dahlstrom, a Republican former state representative from Eagle River, filed her candidacy Monday alongside Dunleavy at the Anchorage office of the Division of Elections.

The governor’s campaign announced Dahlstrom’s bid in a prepared statement.

The lieutenant governor is largely a ceremonial post, but the office has authority over a few key areas, including Alaska’s elections.

Dahlstrom has served as corrections commissioner since Dunleavy was elected in 2018. She was elected to the state House that same year, and resigned that position to take the job in Dunleavy’s administration.

In a statement, the Dunleavy administration said Dahlstrom would be replaced temporarily by Jen Winkelman, a longtime corrections department employee who previously served as director of pretrial, probation and parole.

After filing their paperwork at the elections office, Dunleavy told reporters he had spoken with “a lot of good folks” about the position before finally selecting Dahlstrom.

“There’s a lot of good candidates,” Dunleavy said. But in the end, he said he chose Dahlstrom for her executive and legislative experience.

“You never know — you could trip down a flight of stairs, you could choke on a piece of steak — you have to ask yourself, does the person have the demeanor, the experience, to be able to step into a role like that? And Nancy does,” Dunleavy said.

Dahlstrom said she did not hesitate to join Dunleavy’s ticket.

“What’s important is that Alaskans all over the state know that we have safe, secure elections. That’s going to be my priority,” she said.

Dahlstrom first served in the state House in 2003, a year after she narrowly lost a primary bid for the seat to Lisa Murkowski. Murkowski’s father, Gov. Frank Murkowski, then appointed her to the U.S. Senate and appointed Dahlstrom to replace his daughter in the House.

Dahlstrom served in the House until 2010, when she took a job as a military affairs adviser in Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration. But she stayed in the position for just a few weeks, stepping down after critics raised questions about whether her acceptance of the job complied with a provision in the Alaska Constitution that bars lawmakers from taking positions created while they are in office.

Dahlstrom aims to replace Kevin Meyer, a Republican former state senator who was elected with Dunleavy in 2018. Meyer announced in December that he would not seek reelection.

Dunleavy and Dahlstrom join a race that includes seven other tickets, according to the Alaska Division of Elections.

Other governor and lieutenant governor pairings include Democrats Les Gara and Jessica Cook; nonpartisans Bill Walker and Heidi Drygas; Republicans Charlie Pierce and Edie Grunwald; Republicans David Haeg and Waynette Coleman; Republicans Bruce Walden and Tanya Lange; Alaska Independence Party candidates John Wayne Howe and Shellie Wyatt; and Libertarians William “Billy” Toien and Shirley Rainbolt.

State Rep. Christopher Kurka, a Republican from Wasilla, has also announced a run for governor, with Paul Hueper of Homer as his running mate. They have yet to file with the division of elections, which must be done by June 1 to appear on the ballot.

Nathaniel Herz

Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He’s been a reporter in Alaska for nearly a decade, with stints at ADN and Alaska Public Media. He’s reported around the state and loves cross-country skiing.

Iris Samuels

Iris Samuels is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News focusing on state politics. She previously covered Montana for The Associated Press and wrote for the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

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