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Trump endorses Dahlstrom for Alaska’s U.S. House seat, criticizes Peltola and Begich


Trump endorses Dahlstrom for Alaska’s U.S. House seat, criticizes Peltola and Begich

Jun 17, 2024 | 10:52 pm ET
By James Brooks
Trump endorses Dahlstrom for Alaska’s U.S. House seat, criticizes Peltola and Begich
Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel And Convention Center on Feb. 24, 2024, in National Harbor, Maryland. Attendees descended upon the hotel outside of Washington, D.C., to participate in the four-day annual conference and hear from conservative speakers from around the world who range from journalists, U.S. lawmakers, international leaders and businessmen. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president in this year’s elections, has endorsed Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom in this year’s race for Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat.

Trump’s endorsement was among nine similar statements about different candidates posted on Truth Social, his preferred social media platform, on Monday afternoon.

The statement praised Dahlstrom and criticized both Democratic incumbent Mary Peltola and fellow Republican challenger Nick Begich.

Peltola’s campaign spokesperson declined to comment on the endorsement. Begich did not have an immediate comment.  

Trump’s endorsement could aid Dahlstrom in her effort to win the votes of skeptical Republicans. 

At April’s Republican state convention in Anchorage, Begich received more applause than Dahlstrom, and an informal straw poll conducted by Must Read Alaska — a conservative website — indicated significantly more support for Begich than Dahlstrom.

Twelve candidates, including multiple Republicans, are currently registered for Alaska’s U.S. House race, and the state’s primary election, which will narrow the field to four, will take place Aug. 20. The general election will be Nov. 5.

How Alaska votes

In Alaska’s election system, all candidates for an office, regardless of political party, are placed in the same primary election. Voters pick one candidate, and the four candidates with the most votes advance to the general election.

In the general election, voters are asked to rank the candidates in order of preference, one through four, with a fifth option for a write-in, if wanted.

If a candidate receives more than half of the first-preference votes, they win.

If no one receives more than half of the first-preference votes, the lowest finisher is eliminated, and voters who picked that candidate have their votes go for their second preference.

The elimination process continues until one candidate has more than half of the votes.

Presidential elections do not have a top-four primary. Voters in November may be asked to rank more than four candidates.

Trump remains popular among Republicans after his conviction in New York on 34 counts of falsifying business records. Both Dahlstrom and Begich said after the verdict that they stand behind the president. 

In a written statement, Dahlstrom thanked the former president for Monday’s endorsement.

“Now more than ever, we need real conservative leadership in Washington to right the ship and I look forward to working with President Trump to Make America Great Again when we’re both in Washington,” the statement said in part.

Last week, during a meeting with Republicans in the U.S. Senate, Trump said that if elected, he will restart oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

President Joe Biden’s administration suspended oil leases issued in the last days of the Trump administration, and the issue has been subject to lawsuits since then.

In Monday’s statement, Trump called Peltola “very unpopular,” said her victory in the 2022 U.S. House race “allowed the Democrats to terminate ANWR (something which every Republican President since Ronald Reagan wanted, but only I got!),” and said she is “doing a terrible job for Alaska.”

Two years ago, Trump endorsed former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for U.S. House. 

Begich, Palin and Peltola ran against each other in an August special election and in the November general election for U.S. House. The November race also included Libertarian Chris Bye.

Peltola won both races, in part because half of Begich’s supporters chose Peltola or no one, instead of Palin, as their second choice in Alaska’s ranked choice general election.

In Monday’s statement, Trump blamed Begich for Peltola’s victory, stating in part that “he refused to get out of this Race last time, which caused the Republicans to lose this important seat to Mary Peltola.”

Dahlstrom has been endorsed by the U.S. House’s current Republican leadership, and Trump’s endorsement came on the same day that Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, visited Trump at his home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

Also participating in the meeting was Richard Hudson, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has made unseating Peltola one of its highest priorities.

Johnson said party leaders recruited Dahlstrom to run for office

At the time Dahlstrom entered the race, Begich had been a candidate for almost a year.

Begich has the endorsement of the House Freedom Fund, the campaign arm of the Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans who have criticized and occasionally opposed the House’s current leadership.

Trump’s statement claimed Begich has “Democrat tendencies,” but did not elaborate.

Because Republicans have a narrow majority in the House, Freedom Caucus opposition to Republican leaders’ positions has occasionally forced those leaders to seek House Democratic support for key topics, including foreign aid and budgetary spending bills. 

The Freedom Caucus has repeatedly urged a Republican-led approach.