Sarah Palin loses Alaska special election; Mary Peltola wins

Sarah Palin has officially lost a special election to represent Alaska in Congress, with Democrat Mary Peltola pulling out a surprise victory after the final ballots were counted Wednesday.

The timing of the election means Peltola will only serve a few months and must run for again in November. But for those months, she will be the first Alaska Native to hold the state’s sole House seat and the first Democrat in the job since 1972.

Peltola, who is Yup’ik, ran a relatively moderate campaign and came out ahead in Alaska’s ranked-choice voting system, topping Palin and another Republican, Nick Begich III.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (left) and Mary Peltola

Election officials eliminated third-place Begich and then distributed his voters’ second-place votes to either Peltola or Palin. Despite Palin and Begich sharing a party, Peltola was able to maintain her lead and secure the victory.

“I’m honored and humbled by the support I have received from across Alaska,” Peltola said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing Don Young’s legacy of bipartisanship, serving all Alaskans and building support for Alaska’s interests in D.C.”

Young, a Republican, died in March at age 88, kicking off the special election process. He held Alaska’s sole congressional seat for 49 years.

On the campaign trail, Peltola stressed her support for abortion rights and her focus on Alaska-specific issues like a declining salmon population.

“I’m not a millionaire. I’m not an international celebrity,” she said, a direct shot at Palin, who resigned as Alaska governor in 2009 and went on to a career of punditry and reality TV.

Palin had secured an endorsement from Donald Trump, who flew up to Anchorage to hold a rally for her.

Though Alaskans voted to institute the ranked-choice system, Palin attacked the structure on the campaign trail. After her loss was confirmed, Palin called ranked-choice voting “crazy, convoluted, confusing.”

With News Wire Services

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