Alaska U.S. House candidate Begich gets Freedom Fund endorsement

A man in a suit speaks in a microphone.
Nick Begich III at 2022 candidate forum (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

The race for Alaska’s U.S. House seat is shaping up in interesting ways, particularly among the leading Republican candidates. Alaska Public Media Washington Correspondent Liz Ruskin, author of the newsletter Alaska At-Large, spoke with Alaska News Nightly host Casey Grove about it.


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This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Casey Grove: Liz, in your newsletter (Thursday), you said that Republican candidate Nick Begich III got the endorsement of the House Freedom Fund. What is that and why is it significant?

Liz Ruskin: The fund is the political action committee of the House Freedom Caucus, a bloc of hard-right conservatives in the U.S. House. They want less spending and smaller government. They’re very concerned about immigration and border security. And they have been a thorn in the side of Republican House speakers who they consider too compromising. As they see it, they’re sticking to principles. More moderate Republicans see the Freedom Caucus as a faction that threatens Republican unity and the ability to govern.

CG: So, since they’ve endorsed Begich, does this suggest that if he’s elected he’d align with  the House Freedom Caucus?

LR: Well, I spoke to Begich today and asked him that. Here’s what he said:

Nick Begich: Well, I think it really depends on the specific situation. But certainly there are times where it’s necessary for folks to take a principled stand. And there are other times when compromise is part of the process.

LR: Begich says he shares the House Freedom Caucus’s commitment to limited government but couldn’t say whether he’d become a member if he wins the seat. He says that depends on the specifics of the Freedom Caucus agenda next year. But, Casey, whatever the specifics will be, one of the themes of  the House Freedom Fund is that they strive to drive out — not just Democrats — but what they call “establishment Republicans.”

CG: The other big-name Republican running for Alaska’s House seat is Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom, and as you’ve previously reported, she’s the favorite of House Speaker Mike Johnson and his fundraising allies. So if the House Freedom Fund has endorsed Begich, that seems to have created an interesting dynamic between him and Dahlstrom, doesn’t it?

LR: It does. We’ve got the anti-establishment Republicans backing Begich, and the House speaker  — the highest ranking Republican in the establishment — backing Dahlstrom. And, since Alaska has no Republican primary now, they could duke it out all the way to November. Although Begich has said he’ll drop out of the race if he finishes behind Dahlstrom in the primary. So the rivalry only goes the full distance if Dahlstrom lags Begich in the primary.

CG: Liz, this week we saw an effort among far-right Republicans to oust Speaker Mike Johnson. It failed because Democrats, including Alaska Congresswoman Mary Peltola, voted to rescue him. Was that the House Freedom Caucus that tried to take him down?

LR: Not exactly. That was Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. She was kicked out of the House Freedom Caucus last year. But almost all of the Republicans who voted with Greene on that move to oust the speaker this week were Freedom Caucus members. The majority of Freedom Caucus members, though, stuck with the speaker. And Begich said today that if he’d been there, he’d have voted to keep Speaker Johnson.

CG: If we’re talking Republican endorsements, I guess the big one would be Donald Trump’s. Has the former president weighed in?

LR: Not yet. And it’s not clear which way he’d go. The House Freedom Caucus is very loyal to Trump. Trump, though, supported Speaker Johnson this week, to keep the gavel. Two years ago, you might remember, Trump picked Sarah Palin over Begich, and both of them finished behind Peltola.

CG: Liz, does this endorsement mean the House Freedom Fund intends to spend a lot of money to get Begich elected?

LR: Maybe. They have millions to spend. They can run ads independently of Begich’s campaign, and they can steer contributions into his campaign.

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

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