Former Democratic state lawmaker Mary Peltola bested her Republican opponents Sarah Palin and Nick Begich, to become Alaska’s first Alaskan Native to represent Alaska in the U.S. Congress.
Peltola, a Yup’ik, took away 91,206 votes, or 51.47%, the majority of the votes after the last ranked choice tally on Wednesday. She gained 15,445 votes from voters who picked her as second choice when Begich was eliminated. Sarah Palin, Alaska’s former governor took home 85,987 votes, or 48.53% after gaining 27,042 votes from second choices for Begich votes.
Peltola will represent the state in Washington for the remainder of this year as a result of this special election, this first ranked choice election in the state.
Peltola takes the seat of Don Young who was elected to the representative position 24 times since 1973 and served for over 49 years. The seat has been vacant since his death on March 18th, 2022. Alaska has been without representation in the House since that time.
Don Young himself was first elected to the position following the death of Nick Begich in 1972, he had died in a plane crash just prior to the election for the House seat but still had posthumously won the seat.
Peltola’s election success also fell on her 49th birthday Wednesday to become the first woman to hold the seat for the 49th state. “I don’t think there will be another birthday like today,” Peltola said.
Our newest Representative had served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1999 until 2009.
Palin, sour over her loss, has lashed out at the state’s new ranked-choice voting system saying it, “effectively disenfranchised 60% of Alaska voters.” She vowed to reload.
Begich congratulated Peltola on her win.
Palin, Begich, and Peltola are also running in the November General Election.