Democrat Mary Peltola wins Alaska special election to fill remainder of Rep. Don Young's term
Alaska's first ranked-choice contest saw Democrat Mary Peltola defeat former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin
Democrat Mary Peltola has defeated former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in an Alaska special general election to fill the remainder of former Rep. Don Young's term in Congress, according to ranked-choice voting results announced in the state on Wednesday.
Peltola will become the first Alaska native to serve in Congress and the first woman to hold the house seat from the state.
The seat to represent Alaska's at-large congressional district became vacant after Young, a Republican who held the seat for 49 years after winning a special election in 1973, passed away earlier this year.
The special general election for the vacant seat in Alaska, which was held on Aug. 16, used ranked-choice voting, a measure approved by Alaska residents in 2020 that dismissed the state's previous election method consisting of partisan elections ahead of general elections. Due to the measure's approval, all candidates in the special election appeared on the same ballot.
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Ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference on their ballots. Should one candidate receive a majority of first-preference votes, that individual is declared the winner in the race. However, if no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. Following the elimination of the candidate who received the least amount of first-preference votes, voters' second-preference choices are evaluated and a new tally is established to determine whether a candidate in the race has received a majority of the vote. That process is repeated until a candidate wins a majority of the vote.
Results from the election revealed that 40% of candidates chose Peltola as their first choice, 31% selected Palin as their first choice and 29% chose Begich as their first choice. Following ranked choice guidelines, Begich was eliminated and his votes were dispersed to Peltola and Palin. Peltola received 15,445 second choice votes from Begich and Palin received 27,042 second choice votes from Begich, bringing Peltola's total to 91,206, compared to Palin's 85,987.
A top-four primary election for the seat was held on June 11, which concluded with Palin, Republican Nick Begich, Peltola and independent Al Gross advancing to the special election.
Gross, an orthopedic surgeon and commercial fisherman, withdrew from the race on June 20. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled that fifth-place finisher Tara Sweeney, a Republican, could not advance to the special general election in the absence of Gross.
The special primary election ballot consisted of 22 nonpartisan or undeclared candidates, 16 Republicans, six Democrats, two libertarians, one American Independent Party member, and one Alaskan Independence Party member.
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In the special election primary, Palin received 27% of the vote, Begich received 19% of the vote, Gross received 13% of the vote, and Peltola received 10% of the vote.
Palin received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, Begich received endorsements from North Pole Mayor Michael Welch, several state House and Senate members, and special election primary candidate John Coghill, and Peltola received endorsements from special election primary candidates Gross, North Pole Councilman Santa Claus, Christopher Constant, Mike Milligan and Emil Notti.
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The special general election also took place in accordance with a primary election for Alaska's at-large congressional district on Aug. 17, with all three candidates who were on the special general election ballot advancing to the November general election where they will face off against challengers to serve a full two-year term in the House. A fourth candidate for the November general election has not yet been announced.
In the primary election, Peltola received 36.8% of the vote, Palin received 30.2% of the vote, and Begich received 26.2% of the vote.
Fox News' Lawrence Richard contributed to this report.