Sharon Cissna emerged from a five-way Democratic primary in August 2012 to win her party's nomination for Alaska's lone U.S. House seat despite raising very little money.
Cissna was perhaps the best known of the candidates, having served in the state House since 1998, where her focus has been health and education issues.
She gained national attention in 2011, when she refused a pat-down at a Seattle airport. Cissna, a breast cancer survivor who has had a mastectomy, underwent a full-body scan but was singled out for a further pat-down search, her second, she said, within three months. She likened the pat-down to assault and said she'd vowed to never endure one again. Unable to board the flight, she wound up taking the long way back to Juneau for the legislative session, a nearly 900-mile journey that included a cab and rental car, small airplane ride and ferry.
Her experience turned her into an unlikely hero, resulting in an outpouring of support. It also prompted the state Legislature to pass a resolution urging the Transportation Security Administration to reconsider its use of full-body pat-downs and calling on Congress to exercise greater oversight over the agency.
She introduced several pieces of legislation during the 2012 legislative session aimed at the TSA, but they went nowhere.
On her campaign website, Cissna says her experiences, which resulted in more than 2,000 emails, calls and letters, "cement my concern and commitment to safeguard health, safety and our constitutional rights."
She avoids airports with TSA screening and has been able to campaign across the state using a range of transportation alternatives, including small planes and her motor home.
While pushing back against the TSA is a central piece of her platform, Cissna says it's not the only issue that she's running on. She says she wants to find ways to grow Alaska's economy, and is willing to work across party lines.
She said she and Republican Rep. Don Young agree the TSA is wrong in its approach, but she doesn't believe he's taken a forceful enough stance against the agency. She said she hears from Alaskans they are dissatisfied with the federal government and an erosion of constitutional freedoms, and she wants to safeguard those freedoms.