Democrat Mary Peltola won the special election on Wednesday to represent Alaska’s only seat in the United States House, according to the Alaska Division of Elections.
Why is this important: Peltola’s victory is a major upset in a state that voted for former President Trump by 10 points in 2020, and it makes her the first Alaskan native elected to Congress.
- Peltola will also be the first Democrat to represent the seat in nearly half a century. Republican Don Young occupied it from 1973 until his died in march.
- She beat Republican Sarah Palin, the former governor and 2008 vice-presidential candidate who had Trump’s endorsement.
How did it happen: Arable lands advanced in the general election in the top four of the general primaries in June with Palin and businessman Nick Begich, a more traditional Republican.
- Independent Al Gross, a surgeon and 2020 U.S. Senate candidate, dropped out of the race shortly after advancing in the primary and endorsed Peltola.
- The general election, which was ranked by choice, saw Peltola hold a 9-point lead over Palin in first-preference votes. She ultimately won with 52% to Palin’s 49%.
- While half of Begich’s votes went to Palin in the second round, nearly 30% went to Peltola, and 21% ranked neither candidate as their second choice.
The backdrop: Peltola, who is Yup’ik, served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009.
- She campaigned on her support for abortion rights, climate action and organized labor, as well as her knowledge of the state’s prominent fishing industry.
- She also sought to contrast Palin’s more divisive tone, told the New York Times“I think respect is just a fundamental part of getting things done and solving problems.”
The big picture: Peltola’s victory follows series of Democratic outperformances in House Special Elections from the Supreme Court reversed the historic Roe v. Wade abortion decision in June.
Yes, but: Alaska’s new ranked choice system makes this a unique case that is more difficult to extrapolate than standard general election contests.
What they say : “I look forward to continuing Don Young’s bipartisan legacy, serving all Alaskans, and building support for Alaskan interests in DC,” Peltola said in a statement.
- “We have built a great momentum in a short time. … I plan to continue to introduce myself to Alaskans and work to earn their trust.
- Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (DN.Y.) said in a statement that Peltola’s victory “sends a resounding message that only confirms what we already know: voters everywhere the country are furious at Republicans’ extreme attacks on their basic freedoms.”
The other side: In a report, Palin attempted to vote by rank — which she railed against throughout the campaign — saying he had “effectively disenfranchised 60% of Alaska voters.”
- “While we’re disappointed with this result, Alaskans know I’m the last to retreat. Instead, I’m going to reload,” she said.
And after: The special election was solely to determine who serves for the remainder of Young’s term, which ends Jan. 3.
- Peltola, Palin, Begich and fishing guide Chris Bye, a libertarian, will face off in another ranked election in November after advancing in a primary last week.