ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — Nine people want to replace Congressman Don Young as Alaska’s only congressman. Already yard signs, as prolific as the dandelions, are popping up in front of homes throughout the state.
Some names are well known: independent Alyse Galvin and Democrat Dimitri Shein from Anchorage, Carol Hafner from South Dakota. Wait, South Dakota? That’s what her official candidacy document shows. Other records list her being from a little house in Toms River, N.J.
Hafner's Twitter account says her campaign is focused on protecting the environment, net neutrality, and the rights of women and LGBT people. Her website says she also supports Medicare for all, marijuana legalization at the federal level, and abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service.
“On August 21, 2018 vote Carol 'Kitty' Hafner Democrat for Alaska U.S. Representative in the Democratic Party Primary Election! Retire Don Young, and replace him with a progressive woman!” Hafner tweeted.
On August 21, 2018 vote Carol "Kitty" Hafner Democrat for Alaska U.S. Representative in the Democratic Party Primary Election! Retire Don Young, and replace him with a progressive woman! Checkout the sample ballot below! #Alaska #Democrats #BlueWave2018 pic.twitter.com/bP1TFIDeW8— Carol Hafner for Congress (@VoteHafner) July 5, 2018
She’s not the first Hafner to run for Congress. Eric Hafner, perhaps her son, gave the same New Jersey address when he ran for Congress in Oregon this year. He came in fourth in a four-person race when Oregon held its primary in May. In 2016, he ran as a Republican in Hawaii.
Legally, the Hafners can do it. For a federal seat, Alaska’s qualifications defer to the U.S. Constitution, which lists only a few requirements for a House member: Be at least 25, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years and a resident of the state — when elected. That’s much less strict than the Alaska constitution, which requires state legislators to have been Alaskans for at least three years and a resident of the district they represent for a year.
Ray Metcalfe, a former Republican legislator, said he found the situation amusing.
“A person could file for office in all 50 sates and maybe they’d get lucky,” he said.
Julie Olsen, the Anchorage vice chair for the Democratic Party, isn't laughing though. She's worried that Hafner might take enough votes away from Shein, whom she favors, to deny him a primary victory.
Olsen said she's complained to the Division of Elections, but officials told her they won't investigate.
"I was upset about it," she said.
"It is a concern of mine that this person is a declared Democrat, their platform mimics that of Dimitri Shein, they have been reaching out to the same constituencies. Is that on purpose to try to split the Democratic vote? I don’t know," Olsen said. "I’d hate to see my candidate lose by a thousand votes that were shaved off by a fake candidate."
Asked on Facebook what KTUU viewers thought about Hafner’s candidacy, more than 100 people responded. Most were critical, though a few said they would welcome someone who wasn’t an incumbent.
Young, 85, has held Alaska's only seat in the U.S. House since 1973.
A big part of being an Alaskan is being suspicious of all things Lower 48. It’s so engrained in us, it’s described as being from "Outside."
This isn't the first time someone from Outside has run for office in Alaska. The most recent one was a failed attempt in 2014 during the primary race for the U.S Senate.
Facebook, Twitter and email messages to Hafner weren't returned.