Diane Benson

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Diane Benson is a Democratic candidate for Alaska's congressional district in the 2008 congressional elections.

Diane E. Benson was a Democratic candidate in the 2008 congressional elections for Alaska's congressional district (map). She was seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), though she may face an alternate Republican following the party's state primary in 2008. She previously challenged Young in the 2006 congressional elections achieving over 40% of the vote, with Young receiving 57% of the vote CNN Election Results, his worst showing in many years. She lost in primary elections which took place on August 26, 2008. [1] [2]

Positions, record and controversies


Diane E. Benson is an Alaskan politician, inspirational speaker, video production consultant, published writer and dramatist. She was born in Yakima, Washington in 1954 and grew up in Southeastern Alaska. She began volunteer work with senior citizens at Ketchikan Hospital at the age of 12, and worked a variety of social service oriented jobs with the underprivileged and the elderly until she took a position with the Fairbanks Native Association and then moved to work for Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) Washington, DC. (See Political activities/career below.)[3]

Diane operated a concrete mixer for Alagco. Her son, Latseen, in the cab.

In 1977 after working on a gill-netter (fishing boat) in Bristol Bay and, after the construction of the Alaska Pipeline was completed, worked numerous jobs including: a researcher for the Alaska Federation of Natives Human Resources, lay-out artist and writer for the Tundra Times, researcher for North Pacific Rim and other contracting work. She paid for two years of college by driving trucks in the early 80’s as Alaska’s first female union concrete-mixer driver. (She is featured in a PBS documentary, "Alaska Pipeline".) She did volunteer research work for the Berger Commission and from 1986-1988 was a paralegal for Alaska Legal Services. Throughout the 1990s, Benson ran Northern Stars Talent Agency, promoting Alaska’s talent in films and commercials nationally and internationally.[4][5]

Benson has a Bachelor's degree in Theater with a minor in Justice and a journalism emphasis. She attended the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. She completed her Master’s in Creative Writing in 2002 at the University of Alaska under the tutelage of Pulitzer Prize winner N. Scott Momaday. Benson's play, "When My Spirit Raised its Hands," a one-woman piece centering on early civil rights leader Elizabeth Peratrovich and the Alaskan Civil Rights story, has earned acclaim from Native journals and writer's groups and was performed in March 2006 as part of the Smithsonian Institution's contribution to Women's History Month. She is contributing to a PBS documentary on the subject. She also just completed co-production of video on rural Alaska.[6][7]

Benson has continued graduate studies on a Masters in Public Policy at New England College.[8]

Benson lives in Chugiak, Alaska, a community of the Anchorage Municipality, and has one foster daughter and one son. Her son, Latseen Benson, is an army veteran who was severely wounded in Iraq in November 2005.[9][10]

Recent Awards:

  • Trailblazer Award for public service - Delta Sigma Theta, A Professional Women’s Public Service Sorority (2007)
  • Goldie Award, “Today in Alaska Native History” (2005)[11][12]

Political activities/career

At the age of 18 Benson took a position with the Fairbanks Native Association and the youngest person to ever serve on the FNA Executive Board. She then moved to Washington, D.C. to work for U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska).[13]

She received significant recognition from the Mayor, the State Legislature, and the International Committee for her success and leadership with the 1996 Arctic Winter Games held in Chugiak-Eagle River.[14]

Benson ran for Governor of Alaska in 2002 on the Green Party of Alaska ticket and was defeated.[15]

Diane frequently keynotes nationally before such groups as judicial professionals regarding issues of violence and recovery, or in schools or communities facilitating discussions on race-relations, war and family, veterans, and other critical issues. Diane serves on Anchorage Chamber of Commerce’s Military Appreciation Committee, on the Healing Racism Steering Committee, was a two term President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood, Camp 87- Anchorage, and is an active member of the National Organization of Women.[16][17]

2006 elections

Filing to run less than 4 months before the primary, Benson won the Democratic primary against Ray Metcalf (D) and went on to face incumbent Don Young (R-Alaska) in the 2006 general election. By acquiring over 40% of the vote, one of only three candidates to do so in 33 years of opponents running for Alaska's congressional seat. Benson got Young to participate in a live debate, challenging habitual policies that prevented non-incumbents for Congress from making certain appearances.[18]


Young defeated Benson, 57% to 40%, with the Libertarian and Green candidates each receiving 1% of the vote. Young's margin of victory was the smallest in at least eight years (since 1998) and he outspent Benson 10 to 1, spending $1,959,806 to Benson's $192,484 in the race.[19]

Main article: Don Young#Congressional elections

2008 elections

Benson had decided to challenge Young again in the 2008 congressional elections.[20] She filed for Alaska's sole US House of Representatives seat in April, 2007 (Statement of Candidacy). She lost in primary elections which took place on August 26, 2008. [1] [2]

Money in politics

Information on this candidate's 2010 fundraising is not yet available.

Committees and affiliations


Benson will be assigned committees if and when she is elected to Congress.


  • Member, Alaska Veterans Foundation, 2006-Present.
  • Member, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, 2007-Present.
  • Member, ACC Military Appreciation Committee, 2007-Present.
  • Member, Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, 1993-Present.
  • Member, National Organization for Women, 2006-Present.
  • President, Alaska Native Sisterhood, Camp 87, 2005-2007.
  • Member, Healing Racism in Anchorage Steering Committee, 2004-Present.
  • Member, Special Faculty/Presenter, National Judicial College 2000.
  • Member, National Congress of American Indians, Lifetime Member.
  • Member, Alaska Press Women, 1994 – 2004.
  • Member, Alaska Film Group, 1993 – 1996.
  • Member, Chugiak Dog Mushers, 1992 – 2000.
  • Member, Chugiak ABATE, 1994-Present.
  • Consultant, National Museum of the American Indian, 1991-92.
  • Member, Teamster’s Union, Local 959, 1974–78, 1982-83.

More background data


2008 Campaign Contact Information

Official Benson for Congress website

Diane Benson for Congress
P.O. Box 200408
Anchorage, AK 99520

Phone: (907) 274-0808

Fax: (907) 334-3083


Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 “Alaska 2008 General Election,"The Green Papers, August 27, 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rachel Kapochunas, "Young Leads (Barely) in Alaska Primary Count, as Stevens Survives",CQ Politics, August 27, 2008
  3. "Diane Benson - The Rest of the Story" Diane Benson for Congress.
  4. "Diane Benson - The Rest of the Story" Diane Benson for Congress.
  5. "Diane's Bio" Diane Benson for Congress.
  6. "Diane Benson - The Rest of the Story" Diane Benson for Congress.
  7. "Diane's Bio" Diane Benson for Congress.
  8. "Diane Benson - The Rest of the Story" Diane Benson for Congress.
  9. "Diane's Bio" Diane Benson for Congress.
  10. "Diane Benson - The Rest of the Story" Diane Benson for Congress.
  11. "Diane Benson - The Rest of the Story" Diane Benson for Congress.
  12. "Diane's Bio" Diane Benson for Congress.
  13. "Diane Benson - The Rest of the Story" Diane Benson for Congress.
  14. "Diane's Bio" Diane Benson for Congress.
  15. "Diane Benson - The Rest of the Story" Diane Benson for Congress.
  16. "Diane's Bio" Diane Benson for Congress.
  17. "Diane Benson - The Rest of the Story" Diane Benson for Congress.
  18. "Diane Benson - The Rest of the Story" Diane Benson for Congress.
  19. "Diane Benson - The Rest of the Story" Diane Benson for Congress.
  20. Diane Benson's official 2008 campaign website

External resources

External articles