Alaska Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom said Tuesday she’s running for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House, challenging sitting Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola in the 2024 election.
In her campaign announcement, Dahlstrom dubbed herself “a conservative Republican, law enforcement leader, military and veterans advocate.”
Dahlstrom, 66, has served as lieutenant governor for less than a year. Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy tapped her as his running mate in 2022. Before that, she served as commissioner of the Department of Corrections.
Dahlstrom also served in the state House from 2003 to 2010, when she took a job as military affairs adviser in the administration of then-Gov. Sean Parnell. She stayed in that 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 joins a congressional race that also includes fellow Republican Nick Begich, who first ran for the seat in 2022, losing twice to Peltola — in a special election to replace longtime Rep. Don Young and in the regularly scheduled November election.
The Alaska Republican Party has yet to announce formal endorsements in the race. After the 2022 election, some political observers said Begich and Republican former Gov. Sarah Palin lost because they spent much of their campaign fighting each other.
Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat is one national Republicans are eyeing in their quest to keep and widen their control of the chamber in 2024. The candidates will run under Alaska’s new voting system, which includes an open, nonpartisan primary and ranked-choice general election between the top-four vote-getters.
Dahlstrom contributed $100 to Begich’s 2022 U.S. House campaign, according to federal election commission records. She has no record of contributing to the campaigns of former President Donald Trump. She made several contributions to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012.
Dahlstrom, running on the same ticket as second-term Gov. Mike Dunleavy, easily won in 2022. But she largely took a back seat in the campaign.
The lieutenant governor is largely a ceremonial post, but the office has authority over a few key areas, including Alaska’s elections. After announcing her candidacy for lieutenant governor, Dahlstrom said in May 2022 that her top priority when elected would be “that we have safe, secure elections.”
Since Dahlstrom has been in office for under a year, she has yet to oversee any statewide election. Her first action as lieutenant governor was to appoint Carol Beecher, a registered Republican who had contributed to Dahlstrom and Dunleavy’s campaign, to oversee the state’s division of elections. The position had previously been held by individuals who were not registered with a particular political party.
Dahlstrom will be responsible for overseeing the integrity of the election in which she is running. Dunleavy spokesperson Jeff Turner said Tuesday that Dahlstrom would not resign before the election.
Dahlstrom said in a prepared announcement that she has “seen how D.C. politicians betray Alaskans every day.”
“In Congress, I will stop Biden and the extreme liberals ruining our future, bankrupting our families, killing our jobs, harming our military and veterans, and threatening our security,” she said in the statement.
In a statement, Peltola’s campaign manager Elisa Rios said, “Mary gets that this isn’t her seat, it’s Alaska’s sole seat in the House.”
“It’s up to her to prove to Alaskans every two years that she’s the right person to fight for them in D.C.,” Rios said, adding that Peltola had “delivered on key campaign promises” by securing approval from the Biden Administration for the Willow oil development project, advocating for millions of dollars in federal funding to develop the state’s energy grid, opposing the Kroger-Albertson merger, and advocating for abortion access.
“Mary and the lieutenant governor spoke earlier today and Mary welcomed her to the race. She looks forward to discussing the issues with her this next year,” Rios said.
Dahlstrom and Begich could not immediately be reached for comment.
Dahlstrom lost her first campaign for the state Legislature in 2002, after challenging Lisa Murkowski from the right. Dahlstrom criticized Murkowski’s position on abortion access and support for a statewide income tax. Dahlstrom lost the primary election by only 57 votes, and was soon after appointed to the Legislature to fill the seat vacated by Murkowski — who was appointed to serve in the U.S. Senate in 2003.
Prior to launching her career in public service, Dahlstrom defined her primary occupation as “mother, grandmother.” She holds degrees in human resources and has worked as a vocational counselor for the University of Alaska Anchorage. She has been the chair of the Eagle River Friends of the National Rifle Association, president of the Birchwood Community Council, and vice president of the Eagle River Republican Women’s Club.
Peltola, the only statewide Democrat representing Alaska, is seen as widely popular in the state and has had broad support from key groups, including labor unions and Alaska Native organizations.
As of the end of September, Peltola had more than $1 million in her campaign account. Begich, a wealthy businessman, had more than $200,000 for campaign spending but still counted a debt of $425,000 after loaning his campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars last year.