Democrat Mary Peltola defeats Sarah Palin in Alaska special election

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.

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