Michigan House panel considers ban on mobile phone use while driving

Alaska candidate has never set foot in state

Becky Bohrer
Associated Press

Juneau, Alaska — Carol Hafner is on the Democratic primary ballot for an Alaska U.S. House seat.

She doesn’t live in Alaska. In fact, she’s never been to the state. Hafner, who listed New Jersey and South Dakota addresses in her candidate filing, says she’s serious about running, but doesn’t plan to campaign in person.

Party officials are questioning her authenticity and political affiliation.

Under the U.S. Constitution, to serve in Congress one must meet age and citizenship requirements and inhabit the state at the time elected. Generally, Alaska candidates in such races are from the state. But not always.

In 2014, a New York man, who has run in other states, challenged then-U.S. Sen. Mark Begich in Alaska’s Democratic primary and got crushed.

It happens elsewhere, too: In Wyoming, also in 2014, an Arizona man whose campaign consisted almost entirely of sock-puppet videos, won the Democratic nomination for U.S. House — unopposed — but lost to incumbent Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis in the general election.

“You may have a right to run, doesn’t mean you’re going to be well-received, or it’s going to be an easy campaign for you,” said Jay Parmley, executive director of the state Democratic party. “If you’re not from somewhere, that’s a pretty tall order.”

Hafner faces long odds and has focused her attention online, where she boasts a comparable number of Twitter followers to those of the highest-profile candidates: Democrat Dimitri Shein and independent Alyse Galvin. Independents who want Democratic support can run in the party primary.

Hafner listed on her candidacy filing a home and mailing address in New Jersey. She also listed an address at a mail-drop location in South Dakota popular with RVers and others with more transient lifestyles as her campaign contact on Alaska’s website listing of candidates. Public records show property and voter registration records for Hafner in New Jersey.

The New Jersey addresses match those used by Eric Hafner during a failed run as a Democrat in an Oregon U.S. House primary earlier this year, which caught the attention of Julie Olsen, an Anchorage Democratic party leader. She said she was worried that Eric Hafner had “hijacked” Carol Hafner’s identity and created an online persona to file for office. Olsen supports Shein.

Hafner, 64, said Eric Hafner is her son. She said he also ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary for a U.S. House seat in Hawaii in 2016. Efforts to reach him were unsuccessful.

Hafner said she travels extensively and considers South Dakota her base. She felt compelled to run to share her perspective on the environment, including climate change, education, health care and other issues.

People must pull together to solve problems, Hafner said. “Don’t lock me out just because I’m not a homeboy,” she said.