Randy Ruedrich: Alaska must elect the most qualified candidate for Congress. What does that mean?



The United States House of Representatives (Congress) consists of two teams of elected members. The majority team runs the show. The minority team watches. The majority team elects its House leadership and its committees that craft all the legislation that comes to House floor for a vote.   

How does a member become a meaningful member of the majority, like a committee chair?

Consider the demographic description of the Members of Congress. The average member is 57.9 years of age and has served 8.5 years in Congress. The average age of a new member is 47.8 years of age. These statistics are from the Congressional Research Service, published on March 11, 2024:  “Membership of the 118th Congress: A Profile.”

Advancing to congressional leadership is critical in achieving Alaska’s goals. Congress has 23 committees currently run by Republican chairs. Rookies are not elected to chair a committee.

The current 23 chairs were in Congress for over eight years before they were elected as a committee chair, or even a ranking member of a committee. The data is skewed since most chairs on extremely important committees initially were selected to lead a lesser committee.  Hence the time served to chair a major committee like Judiciary, Natural Resources or Rules would be much greater.

What does this mean for a typical legislator? Newly elected members are usually under age 50. That typical member will serve four terms in Congress before departing for other duties and interests.

Since the average chair was not elected to their position until after eight years, the average member never participates in this Leadership process.  Alaska was well served by Congressman Don Young, who entered Congress at age 39 and chaired major committees for 12 years. Sen. Ted Stevens did likewise, first entering Congress at age 46. Lisa Murkowski began serving in the US Senate when she was 45 years old.

Let’s consider our two 2024 Republican Congressional candidates:

Nick Begich is entering this election at age 47 (born 10/21/77). His age is similar to his new peers. As our congressman, he would compete with his peers for leadership positions as he serves on various committees of relevance to Alaskans. As he approaches age 55 after eight years in Congress, he could be tapped for a committee leadership position. 

Nancy Dahlstrom is age 67 entering this election (born 8/13/57), a nominal two decades older than the typical new member. By the time she has served eight years in Congress, she will be over 75 years of age. Her competitors for leadership roles will always be 20 years younger. Instead of being an active candidate for Republican House Leadership, she would be approaching the end of her political career.

Why vote for someone who lacks the actuarial capacity to achieve seniority for Alaska?   

Alaska needs someone with enough runway left to make a difference. Alaska needs Nick Begich.

Randy Ruedrich is former chairman of the Alaska Republican Party and is a retired petroleum engineer.


      • Age seems to be the only factor brought into this discussion by Randy. The bottom is this: Nancy Dahlstrom is not even focusing on her new job as Lt. Governor. Why would Alaskans trust her to do any better as a Representative? Dahlstrom is all about herself, and only herself.

        NB3 ……..gets our entire family’s votes.

  1. Give it up, already. Magic Nick doesn’t have ANY experience in office. He would have a Longl ong training period to get spun up.and make any connections that might get him somewhere in the DC Swamp. Plenty of time for his family to feed on our tax dollars again in their traditional manner

    • Chuckle, I’ll take Nick over any of the other contenders. You see Chuck, Nick has excelled in life, and business which is always a good template to follow when choosing a Candidate.

      BTW Chuck, success doesn’t happen by Magic, it takes intelligence and hard work.
      And his Gramps was a heck of a Representative for Alaska

    • Experience in office? For the most part, the abilities to analyze situations, develop personal relationships, and think rationally is not taught to us. Rather, it is quite innate; we are born with whatever talents we have in these respects. In addition to these natural talents, Nick is educated, well-read, and broadly experienced. I have spent time with him on several occasions and I can attest he is beyond capable of serving in any position in congress. Moreover, longevity in the House does not guarantee leadership positions. Rather the talent described above is what does that. I am reluctant to use the word “perfect” but in this case I will make an exception. Nick is our perfect candidate.

  2. And AK GOP need former Rep Pruitt as its new chair and he has plenty of runway. His work maintaining a United House of Republicans is admirable and them still being able to still firmly stand demonstrates his skills. I don’t mean to offend as I usually do. The current AKGOP for chair applicant list they need someone like Pruitt to work under.

  3. Vote for Nick because he’s younger!
    Hell of a campaign sign, Randy… got a lot of them up, have you?
    Forgive us for asking; at 50, Mary Peltola’s age is also “similar to her new peers this year”, no?
    So… Mary’s just as “qualified” as Nick, but more “qualified” than Nancy?
    One wonders why Democrats bother with political operatives and dark money when GOP “leadership” are so willing and able to sink themselves.

  4. Unlike Mr. Ruderich, my statement is not a veiled endorsement of anyone running for Congress. I am only responding to his only qualification for Congress being one’s age. I can say as someone in their 70’s I do more work in politics in a day than most 30-40 year olds do in a week. My friend Alice Hanley, at 90, worked as hard at our recent PPP than anyone.
    Let’s hope that we don’t use age for every elected official. Donald Trump was one of the best presidents elected in many years and he was in his 70’s. Obama was much younger and a lousy president in my opinion. George Washington was 57 and in that era, that age would be considered quite old when looking at life expectancy. It really does depend on the person. Just look at the difference between Trump and Biden and their ability to function.
    If age is your only qualification I believe that would not only be discrimination but very foolish indeed. The last thing we need in Congress is lifelong politicians and is the reason I believe in term limits. It doesn’t have anything to do with age.

    • “Just look at the difference between Trump and Biden and their ability to function.”

      let’s look:

      “Presumptive GOP nominee for president, again, for a third time, despite the fact he is a twice-impeached, four-time criminal indictee and racist who’s been found liable for fraud and sexual abuse. Banned from doing business in the state of New York for three years. Owes over half a billion dollars in fines. Took millions from foreign governments while he was president. Tried to extort a foreign country to interfere in an election in 2020 and encouraged another to help him win in 2016,” Mr Trump “actively undermined a nation’s response to a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and let a deadly disease spiral out of control. Is about to go on trial for breaking campaign finance laws by paying hush money to cover up an affair during the 2016 campaign. Orchestrated a months-long coup attempt that culminated in a violent insurrection to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power and install him as an unelected dictator. Stole classified documents and obstructed attempts to get them back. Has never once won the popular vote and has been routinely rejected by a majority of Americans in election after election”. Mr Trump “spews deranged conspiracy theories about everything from climate change to immigration, to vaccines to windmills. Glitches on three-syllable words, two-syllable words and one-syllable words, cheats at golf, can’t spell his own name, his wife’s name or the words ‘indicted’, ‘education’, ‘unprecedented’, ‘stolen’, ‘Denmark’. ‘Kentucky’ or ‘tap’,” –
      Seth Myers

        • BN. No. No, that is an irrelevant comment. The quote is about defendant Trump, not any ill-conceived, unsupported, knee-jerk claim that I’m a communist. Without Google you couldn’t even define communism.

      • Now do Biden and as hard as it is for a Democrat such as yourself, at least be truthful. This ought to be good!

    • Judy says: “If age is your only qualification….”

      That’s not what Randy said. He pointed out that age ought to be a consideration based on the way seniority in congress works. How many years has the Alaskan delegation waved the seniority flag?

      Appears you have an interesting view of qualifications based on this and your work against Al Fogel for Assembly in 2017. In that one you helped elect Suzanne LaFrance. Congratulations on your brilliant political acumen. Not. Cheers –

  5. And tell me who has experience Mary? Dahlstrom has quit everything she started including the Loot Govenor! I’m not sold on Nick but He’s got to be better than the other two

  6. If we’re talking most qualified, that lets out all contenders.
    If we’re talking best available, that a reluctant vote for Nick.

  7. How about we elect common people and no politicians or lawyers.
    Let’s change the game we continue to loose.

  8. Nick gets my vote. Nancy doesn’t have any more experience than Nick, I don’t care how old any of them are. Mary is just a Biden rubber stamp with no regard for the good of Alaska and no mind of her own. The Democratic Party owns her.

  9. Reudrich brings up a good point.

    But regardless of age, Nick has the energy for the job. It’s hard work being the only one from Alaska in DC. Nancy needs to go be Lt Governor. That is the job she ran for. Finish it.

  10. Nancy Dahlstrom will be able to draw full social security this year. Not the time to start as a freshman in congress.

  11. Nancy Dahlstrom managed to live in Alaska and be in politics for 20 years. She’s almost 70 and I’ve never heard of her. She must have achieved basically nothing.

  12. Randy did some awesome lifting back in the day, but when you title your best shot for Nick “Alaska must elect the most qualified candidate for Congress” and dismally fail to provide evidence of qualifications, maybe it’s time to relax in the easy chair with a cold drink listening to CSNY.

    I can see the headlines now, “Past AKGOP Chairman promotes Age Discrimination.”

    I don’t know Nick personally, but if all he has to tout as a qualification is the starting of a small technology company called FarShore Partners, I’m not impressed. From what I can see nor is the tec business community. FarShore was started in 2006, and remains only the 7th largest tec company in Illinois. You know, Chicago the world capital of IT. If Nick’s company was to be considered part of a reasonable qualification for him being elected to congress, then surely his endeavor would be better situated in either Silicon Valley or Silicon Slopes. Not to mention if it were considered valuable by the IT world, his personal wealth would be greater due to FarShore Partners having been purchased by a bigger fish – ever heard of Salesforce, started in 1999 now with revenues of $1.6 trillion. What about electing the primary of that company?

    The age argument is silly, you have two candidates worth considering. One is a business man the other was a business woman. The difference is Nancy has a resume complete with private and public sector experience, not to mention having won elections. She has a clear record, something Nick doesn’t. Check out her committee assignments and work in the Alaska House of Representatives and her record in the Executive branch. Twenty years senior her peers comes with experience that puts her way ahead of the 40 year olds at the back of the line.

    The Alaska argument that we need a long runway to reach leadership in DC (like Ted, Don, or Lisa) is a fallacy, what we need is talent. Whether or not you like Sen Sullivan, in his shortish tenure he already has national attention.

    • Nancy’s only talent seems to be jumping from one job to another before she has to be held accountable for any results.

      • Come on JJ, that’s such a cliched response. You telling us you’ve never change direction in your life, not even when friends and family encouraged you to stretch and do more, perhaps more for your community. You apparently haven’t really looked into these to candidates.
        Are you “that guy,” the one that’s held the same job since high school never improving himself or adding back to the world he lives in?
        Not sure Nick needs your kind of support either, seems like he has changed lanes a couple time in his life as well. Nothing personal, I just don’t find him qualified for this job.

    • Your argument is that Nancy is a businesswoman who has 20 years more experience and that business success is measured by someone’s net worth. Near as I can tell based on their disclosures Begich is worth about 10 million. Dahlstrom is worth about 300k. But wait – Dahlstrom had 20 more years of experience and has almost nothing to show for it. So if it’s not money then maybe she achieved something worthwhile. Did she start a business? Not that any one ever heard of. Did she run a business? No. Did she write any key legislation? No. She has achieved nothing. She just fills space. She’s an administrator – a paper pusher. Her nickname at her last job was Do Nothing Nancy!

      • No, you missed my point, but that’s not surprising. First, 10 million is not real wealthy in today’s world, but success means different things to different people. Personally, I’m more incline to judge success by tangibles like family and service to God and Country – not net worth. My observation was that she has worked in both the private and public sector and has won elections, something Nick struggles to do. Sure he deserves the accolades for starting a business (and this was my point) but he’s no Donald, Elon, Steve (Forbes), or Walter J. All of whom operated in both sectors of the economy. By the way, I doubt many Alaskans have ever heard of FarShore Partners either.
        Having spent a few years observing the political process up close, I was more impressed by those who could get things done quietly without a bunch of fanfare. I believe Ms Dahlstrom chaired the House Resources Committee fighting to keep the oil & gas industry vibrant in Alaska, worked to keep our 1st & 2nd Amendment safe, supported Friends of the NRA, had a solid pro-life position, fought many battles as the House Rules Committee Chair preforming the task of gate keeper. But, as I suggested before you probably don’t know either candidate well.
        I applaud both for stepping into the arena, but wanting to cut your teeth as Alaska’s one and only Congressman is problematic for me – that is, unless you dam impressive.
        Look, neither is my perfect candidate, but of the two Nancy has more “street cred” and likely to gain leadership faster.

  13. Remember that the globalists “give us a selection” of people to make us think that we have choices. I don’t trust any of them including the author of this article.

  14. I’ll vote for Nick anytime and every time. Nick has spent lots of time in SE AK and has Washington experience working as Don Young’s tech guy. To my knowledge, Nancy has been invited many times to Republican events and to the community of Ketchikan. She has not only not come here, nor has she had the good manners to even respond to the invitations. That doesn’t bode well for us should she be elected to represent us nationally.

  15. Thank you, Randy, for your input on the realities of politics in Congress. The “seniority system” is alive and well in any legislative body and has ruled our country since the beginning. I supported Nick last time around and I will this year also.

  16. Rare indeed if they exist at all are successful high energy people that have never been in any kind of trouble. Never made a mistake? Never been in a fist fight? never been punched in the face? I do not trust this type of individual as they have obviously never done much. Trump’s tenure in the White House brought us peace in the middle East, record low unemployment, a booming economy and stock market and energy independence. I remember very well suffering through all that misery, Peltola is a socialist communist loser with her best interest, not the state of Alaska. I have had numerous conversations with Nick Begich. He is bright, articulate and highly motivated, Dahlstrom not an option. My circle of friends and family have and will continue to support Nick Begich 100%.

  17. Anyone who has spent “years” in public service or elected positions (Nancy Dahlstrom) loses perspective, especially when not being an effective administrator or legislator. We are all questioning Biden’s age, when we should also be questioning his many years elected to congress with no substantial time in the private sector.

    Give Alaska a business minded individual (Nick Begich) who has had to meet a payroll, worked to cultivate an environment that can keep business profitable and young enough to make some traction in Washington DC.

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