Out of the field of six candidates running to unseat U.S. House Rep. Don Young this fall, there is one candidate who’s never set foot in Alaska.
Carol Hafner is a Democrat running for Alaska’s sole U.S. House of Representatives seat. She lists a South Dakota address on her filings with the state Division of Elections. That address belongs to a mail-drop service near Rapid City, South Dakota that maintains addresses for transient seniors.
Hafner also has two New Jersey addresses on file with the division. One of those leads to a business in Toms River, New Jersey. She said in an interview that she’s currently residing in New York, but would not say where.
“I’m in transition, and I’ve been in transition for a long time,” Hafner said. “Unfortunately, I have some health issues as a result of my dealing with the storm surge. I’m still dealing with these physical issues.”
The storm surge she’s referring to is Hurricane Sandy, and she said that was the impetus for her to run for office in Alaska.
“For people living in these areas where the environment is so fragile, and these floods are getting worse and worse,” Hafner explained. “The storms are getting worse and worse. They’re losing their homes or having to relocate – this hit home with me. I need to do something about it.”
Even though Hafner has never been to Alaska, that wouldn’t disqualify her. The U.S. Constitution just requires House candidates to be at least 25 years old and a U.S. citizen for seven years.
“What that means is according to our national constitution, a candidate could conceivably run in a primary or run in a general election without being a resident,” Forrest Nabors, chair of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s political science department, said.
Others have questioned Hafner’s candidacy. Two complaints with the state Division of Elections questioned her real identity and her actual address, but both were discarded because they were received past the June 11 deadline.
Top Democratic Party officials in Alaska like Jay Parmley say they still find her candidacy questionable.
“I think the voters have a right to know Carol Hafner doesn’t live in Alaska, is not an Alaskan and is questionable to where she lives or if she’s registered to vote even,” Parmley said.
Legalities aside, Nabors said her chances in the primary are a longshot at best.
“It’s more likely to happen if the candidate is well known nationally and the state in which that candidate is running leans in the political partisan direction that candidate already leans,” Nabors said. “In the case of Hillary Clinton, New York was a perfect state. In the case of Illinois, Alan Keys’ run, it was not a favorable territory for his election, and he lost to the well-known Senator Barack Obama.”
Hafner said she has no plans to bring her primary campaign to Alaska.