Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin shockingly lost to Mary Peltola in a special election, ending her political comeback aspirations in the state, at least for the short term, and handing Alaska’s only U.S. House seat to the Democrats.
(Video Credit: NBC News)
Peltola becomes the first Alaska native to serve in the House and the first woman to win that seat. She is Yup’ik according to the Daily Mail. She is also a former member of the Alaska House of Representatives. As a state lawmaker, she chaired the bipartisan Bush Caucus of rural politicians. In addition, she served in the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission before leaving for her congressional campaign.
The Alaskan Democrat reportedly received 51.5 percent of the vote and Palin snagged 48.5 percent. The former governor, 58, had led the race early on but voters apparently view Peltola as a moderate willing to work with both sides of the political aisle.
“It is a GOOD DAY,” Peltola, who is socially progressive, tweeted on Wednesday evening. She proceeded to warn her supporters that the seat is only temporarily held by her until the November elections.
“We’ve won tonight, but we’re still going to have to hold this seat in November,” she admonished. “Donate today to help us make it happen.”
It is a GOOD DAY. pic.twitter.com/7IW4hsWZ2P
— Mary Peltola (@MaryPeltola) September 1, 2022
“What’s most important is that I’m an Alaskan being sent to represent all Alaskans. Yes, being Alaska Native is part of my ethnicity, but I’m much more than my ethnicity,” Peltola said following the announcement of the election results, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
Peltola replaces late Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young. He held the seat for 49 years before he passed away in March.
Supporters of Palin were shocked by the election results. The former governor sought to make a political comeback 14 years after she was applauded as a rising star in the Republican Party when she became the late John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential election.
She was endorsed by former President Trump and her name recognition was supposed to be a big asset in the election. In the end, it wasn’t enough to win her the seat as her detractors questioned her commitment to Alaska after resigning as governor in 2009. Palin denies that assertion and claims she has “signed up for the long haul.”
Since then, Palin has continued to be in the spotlight and has become a conservative commentator and a reality television star.
Palin still has a shot at the U.S. House seat. She is competing with Peltola and Nick Begich, the grandson of the late Alaskan congressman, for the seat in November.
Sarah Palin lost to a Democrat who lost in a landslide on the first ballot. Ranked-choice voting is garbage, but Democrats united around one candidate and Republicans didn’t. This is a timely reminder of the cost of being too precious. There’s a country to save. https://t.co/BKgXzspPum
— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) September 1, 2022
Democrats are ecstatic over Peltola’s win. Many of them are crediting abortion as the reason for taking the election following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. She is the first Democrat to hold the seat since 1972 when the late U.S. Rep. Nick Begich’s plane disappeared.
The results for the special election that was held in August met the deadline for state elections officials to receive absentee ballots mailed from outside the U.S.
Peltola is a former state lawmaker who has worked for a commission to rebuild salmon resources on the Kuskokwim River and has cast herself as a “regular” Alaskan.
“I’m not a millionaire. I’m not an international celebrity,” she proclaimed, taking a dig at Palin.
“I’m really hopeful that voters will feel like they can vote their heart and not feel pressured to vote for the candidate that they think is most ‘viable,'” she stated prior to the special election. “And my hope is that we shy away from the really extreme-type candidates and politicians.”
Peltola is a strong supporter of abortion rights and she is also an environmentalist who addresses ocean productivity as well as food security. She also prioritizes climate change.
She claims that she got a boost following the June primary when she won endorsements from Democrats and independents who had been in the race. Peltola also believes her positive message hit home with voters.
“It’s been very attractive to a lot of people to have a message of working together and positivity and holding each other up and unity and as Americans, none of us are each other’s enemy,” she remarked. “That is just a message that people really need to hear right now.”
60% of Alaska voters voted for a Republican, but thanks to a convoluted process and ballot exhaustion—which disenfranchises voters—a Democrat "won."
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) September 1, 2022
Palin said in a statement after the election that “though we’re disappointed in this outcome, Alaskans know I’m the last one who’ll ever retreat. Instead, I’m going to reload. With optimism that Alaskans learn from this voting system mistake and correct it in the next election, let’s work even harder to send an America First conservative to Washington in November.”
In 2020, Alaskans replaced party primaries with open primaries. Under the new system, ranked voting is used in general elections and ballots are counted in rounds. If a candidate wins more than 50 percent in the first round, they take the election. If no one gets more than 50 percent, those candidates with the fewest votes are eliminated. Rounds continue until only two candidates remain and the one with the most votes wins.
It should be noted that the last time the voters of Alaska backed a Democrat for president was back in 1964. But they seem to love independent candidates.
It’s interesting that Alaska has more registered unaffiliated voters than registered Republicans or Democrats combined.
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