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 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. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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 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. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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

Endorsement could shake up the race, because local Republicans have tended to favor Begich so far.

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.

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.

• James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. This article originally appeared online at alaskabeacon.com. Alaska Beacon, an affiliate of States Newsroom, is an independent, nonpartisan news organization focused on connecting Alaskans to their state government.

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