Alaska Republicans to choose between Trump and Haley on Tuesday

Alaska Republicans are set to vote Tuesday on their preferred presidential candidate, in what will be a matchup between Donald Trump — who is poised to become the party’s nominee — and Nikki Haley, who has drawn support from prominent Alaska Republicans seeking an alternative to the former president.

Under Alaska law, the state doesn’t conduct presidential primaries. Instead, parties select their presidential candidates according to rules adopted by each party. The Alaska Republican Party on Tuesday will hold a presidential preference poll, in which registered Republicans can indicate their chosen candidate. The poll will be used to determine the distribution of Alaska’s 29 delegates to the Republican National Convention in July.

Three candidates have qualified for Alaska’s poll: Trump; Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina governor; and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who dropped out of the presidential race in January and endorsed Trump.

Many of Alaska’s prominent elected Republicans, including Gov. Mike Dunleavy, have voiced support for Trump, who won the state by 10 points in the 2020 presidential election.

The former president has already won several states’ Republican primaries ahead of Super Tuesday. But Alaskans co-chairing Haley’s in-state campaign are continuing to advocate for an alternative. While Haley hasn’t yet won a GOP primary in any state, she’s vowed to stay in the race at least through Super Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of us who think she would be way better than Trump,” said Art Hackney, a political consultant who is co-chairing Haley’s Alaska campaign.

Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a longtime critic of Trump, said earlier in February that she’s hoping for Haley to pull off a victory. But Murkowski said she wouldn’t be in Alaska during the poll, which allows only for in-person participation.


“I am one who is continuing to hold out hope that Nikki Haley could do an astounding come-from-behind,” Murkowski told reporters after addressing the Alaska Legislature in February. “I would delight in that because I think that she is a strong figure who has proven herself and her leadership abilities and could lead this country well.”

The Haley campaign in February issued a list of co-chairs and endorsements that come from some prominent statewide Republicans, including two sitting state lawmakers — Sitka Sen. Bert Stedman and Kodiak Rep. Louise Stutes — and several former lawmakers.

Other Haley endorsers include Fairbanks Mayor David Pruhs; Wasilla Mayor Glenda Ledford; former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell; and Alaska Chamber of Commerce President Kati Capozzi.

Hackney said “it’s pretty apparent” there could be repercussions for Haley supporters from the Trump campaign if he prevails in the presidential race.

“Trump has said repeatedly that they are taking names and that people who gave to support Nikki Haley will be remembered,” said Hackney.

“Literally anybody who disagrees with Trump is no longer welcome in a group that used to be conservatives who had different ideas,” Hackney added. “It’s now got literally nothing but conspiracy theorists who are welcomed.”

[Nikki Haley can’t win the Republican primary with 40%. But she can expose some of Trump’s weaknesses.]

Trump was endorsed by Alaska’s governor in August, making Dunleavy one of the first GOP governors to weigh in on the race for the Republican presidential nomination. U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan endorsed him in February. And Trump has also been endorsed by the two Republican candidates for U.S. House, who are running against Democratic incumbent Rep. Mary Peltola — Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom and businessman Nick Begich, who is running again after losing to Peltola twice in 2022.

Former U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka said she will chair Trump’s 2024 Alaska campaign. Tshibaka lost to incumbent U.S. Sen. Murkowski in 2022. Since then, she has launched a podcast and an organization advocating against ranked choice voting.

Dunleavy and Tshibaka were both endorsed by Trump in their respective races in 2022. In a statement, Tshibaka said that Trump recently called Dunleavy while the governor was speaking at an event organized by a Fairbanks Republican women’s club.

18 polling places and around 124K registered Republicans

Voting in the presidential preference poll will take place in person Tuesday between 3 and 8 p.m. at 18 locations across the state. There are no assigned polling places in five of the state’s 40 House districts, covering much of rural Alaska.

Anchorage — which covers 14 House districts — will have three polling locations. There will be one polling place in each of the following communities: Ketchikan, Juneau, Kodiak, Homer, Kasilof, Kenai, Soldotna, Nikiski, Sterling, Eagle River, Palmer, Wasilla, Valdez, Fairbanks and Delta Junction.

Much of Southeast, Southwest and northern Alaska will be without polling places. Alaska GOP Chair Ann Brown said that if voters would like to participate in the poll but live in a place that lacks a polling location, “they would have to go to one of the sites where polling is available.”

“Those polling sites that have been organized by our districts are dependent on whether volunteers are available to staff them. This is an all-volunteer-run operation,” said Brown.

The poll will be open only to registered Republicans, but under Alaska voting statutes, voters can change their party affiliation until right before voting in the presidential poll, including a day-of change. Brown said that historically, the party has seen a boost in registered members ahead of the Republican presidential preference poll.

As of last year, Alaska had 537,615 registered voters. Of those, 23% — or around 124,000 — were registered Republicans. Just under 60% of voters are unaffiliated with any party.

Under Alaska’s voting laws adopted in 2020 and first used in 2022, all congressional and legislative primaries are open and nonpartisan, meaning voters receive the same primary election ballot for those races regardless of party affiliation.


Former Alaska House member Sara Rasmussen, one of several co-chairs of Haley’s Alaska campaign, said her biggest consideration in supporting Haley was having “a viable Republican candidate” on the November ballot. Still, Rasmussen said she would likely support the Republican presidential nominee “regardless of who it is.”

Rasmussen said that she has encouraged acquaintances not registered as Republicans “to consider changing their affiliation for the election so that they can have a voice in a very important race.” Rasmussen said she’s had “probably a dozen friends in the last few weeks that have said that they’re going” to register as Republicans in order to vote for Haley.

In 2020, the Alaska Republican Party was one of several to cancel their presidential primary and automatically nominate Trump, the incumbent at the time. In 2016 — the last time the Alaska GOP held a presidential preference poll — roughly 23,000 Alaskans participated. Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz won with over 36% of the vote. Trump received just under 34% of the vote. Marco Rubio received 15%.

Brown said 2016 was “a real contest” and that “it’s not clear how voters are going to view this contest.” While Haley remains in the race, she trails far behind Trump, who has commanded the race since the beginning despite facing multiple felony charges, including those relating to his attempt to overturn the results of the previous presidential election.

“We’re arguing this out while there is somebody who is still being judged in legitimate courts of law. You don’t know how those things are going to come out,” said Hackney.

The Alaska Democratic Party plans to hold its presidential primary on April 13. Both Biden and challenger Dean Phillips have qualified for the ballot.

Iris Samuels

Iris Samuels is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News focusing on state politics. She previously covered Montana for The AP and Report for America and wrote for the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact her at isamuels@adn.com.