Peltola beats Palin, wins Alaska House special election

JUNEAU, Alaska –

Democrat Mary Peltola won the special election for the only US House of Representatives seat in Alaska on Wednesday, beating a field that includes Republican Sarah Palin, who is seeking a return. politics in the state where she served as governor.

Peltola, who is Yup’ik and turns 49 on Wednesday, will become the first Alaska Native to serve in the House of Representatives and the first woman to hold the seat. She will serve the remainder of the term of the late Republican United States Representative Don Young. Young held the chair for 49 years before his death in March.

“I don’t think there will be another birthday like today,” Peltola said.

“I’m really grateful to the Alaskans and all the Alaskans who put their trust in me to fill out the remainder of Congressman Young’s term,” she said in an interview. “My desire is to continue Congressman Young’s legacy of representing all Alaskans, and I just look forward to working.”

Peltola’s victory, in Alaska’s first-ranked statewide select election, was a boon for Democrats, especially given a better-than-expected performance in special elections across the country this year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. She would be the first Democrat to hold the seat since the late US Representative Nick Begich, who was seeking re-election in 1972 when his plane disappeared. Begich was later declared dead and Young in 1973 was elected to the seat.

Peltola runs as a coalition builder while her two Republican opponents – Palin and Begich’s nephew, also named Nick Begich – sometimes follow each other. Palin also opposes the ranked voting system, established by Alaska voters.

All three – Peltola, Palin and Begich – are candidates in the November general election, seeking two-year terms that will begin in January.

Results come 15 days after the August 16 election, in line with the deadline for state elections officials to receive absentee ballots sent in from outside the US. released Wednesday after no candidate won more than 50% of the first-choice vote, with state election officials live-streaming the event. Peltola leads in the rankings, followed by Palin and then Begich.

State election officials plan to confirm the election on Friday.

Alaska Democratic Party leaders cheer Peltola’s victory.

“Alaskaans have made it clear that they want a reasonable, consistent, honest, and caring voice in Washington DC, not opportunists and extremists affiliated with the Alaska Republican Party,” the president said. State Democratic Party Chairman Michael Wenstrup said in a statement.

Wednesday’s results were a disappointment for Palin, who was looking to make a political comeback 14 years after she was taken to the national stage when John McCain chose her as his running mate in the race. during the 2008 presidential election, she was widely recognized and won the approval of former US President Donald Trump.

After Peltola’s victory was announced, Palin called the ranked voting system “crazy, complicated, confusing.”

“While we are disappointed with the outcome, the Alaskans who know me are the last to withdraw,” Palin said in a statement.

Begich in a statement congratulated Peltola while looking forward to the November election.

During the campaign, critics questioned Palin’s commitment to Alaska, citing her decision to step down as governor in July 2009, near the end of her term. Palin went on to become a conservative TV commentator and appear in reality TV shows, among other pursuits.

Palin has insisted her commitment to Alaska never wavers and said ahead of the special election that she’s “registered a long way.”

Peltola, a former state congressman who most recently served on a committee whose goal was to rebuild salmon stocks on the Kuskokwim River, describes himself as a “normal” Alaskan. “I’m not a millionaire. I’m not an international celebrity,” she said.

Peltola said she hopes that the new system will allow more moderate candidates to be elected.

During the campaign, she emphasized her support for abortion rights and said she wanted to raise issues of ocean productivity and food security. Peltola said she got a boost after the June special primaries when she won approval from Democrats and independents who entered the race. She said she believes her positive message resonates with voters as well.

“It’s very appealing to a lot of people to have the message of working together, being positive and coming together, and as Americans, none of us are enemies,” she said. “It’s just a message that people really need to hear right now.”

Alaska voters in 2020 adopted an election process that replaces party primaries with open primaries. Under the new system, ranked voting is used in general elections.

Under ranked voting, votes are counted in rounds. A candidate can win outright with more than 50% of the votes in the first round. If no one reaches that threshold, the candidate with the fewest votes will be disqualified. Voters who have selected that candidate as their top choice will be counted for their next choice. The rounds continue until two candidates are left and whoever has the most votes wins.

In Alaska, voters supported a Democrat for president for the last time in 1964. The number of registered voters not affiliated with a party is larger than the number of registered Republicans or Democrats combined, according to the report. Statistics from the Elections Department.

The last Democratic member of the Alaskan congressional delegation was Mark Begich, uncle of Nick Begich, who served one term in the US Senate and lost his re-election in 2014.

U.S. Senators of Alaska, Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, congratulated Peltola.

Murkowski said Peltola “has a track record of public service to our great state.” Murkowski and Peltola are both in the state Legislature.

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