Peltola counts FTC action against supermarket merger as a win for bipartisanship

Congresswoman Mary Peltola speaks to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature on Feb. 26, 2024. Such speeches are annual events for all three members of Alaska’s delegation to Congress. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

Congresswoman Mary Peltola leaned into unity in her annual address to the Alaska Legislature Monday. She pointed to a new federal action against supermarket consolidation as a win for the state, for her efforts and for what she sees as the Alaska model of bipartisanship.

“Alaska has convinced the Federal Trade Commission to sue to block the Kroger-Albertsons merger,” she said, to applause from the state House chamber.

The proposed supermarket merger is intensely unpopular in Alaska. Kroger owns Fred Meyer stores. Albertsons owns Safeway and Carrs. Peltola, a Democrat, has rallied Alaska opposition, amplifying local concerns that combining the major grocery chains would bring higher food prices and eliminate union jobs. She and the state’s U.S. senators wrote letters to the FTC opposing the merger. Peltola said she also met with the FTC chair and conveyed what Alaskans told her.

“And today the FTC informed me that it was those listening sessions, hearing from regular people like they have never heard before, that not only convinced them to move to stop this merger, but it also created a new model for how the FTC will engage with constituents when making big decisions that affect them and their lives,” Peltola said.

The speech was infused with Peltola’s brand of politics. She shared credit. She praised the Republican senators, and she struck an inclusive note. The first Alaska Native member of Congress said great Alaskans come from across the populace, regardless of lineage.

“In our own family histories — the parents and grandparents who persevered through hardship, worked exciting and challenging jobs in booming industries, whether they came from a long line of Alaskans, or were just one of the many who moved here, fell in love and never left,” she said.

The supermarket merger isn’t dead yet. The FTC has authorized a lawsuit, but its track record in court is mixed. Kroger says the deal will still allow for competition in Alaska. It proposes to sell 14 of the 35 Carrs-Safeway stores to another company.

Peltola is running for re-election this year, hoping to win her second full term as Alaska’s sole member in the U.S. House. Two prominent Republicans have also filed for the seat: Nick Begich III and Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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