Election 2022

Democrat thumps Sarah Palin to become Alaska’s newest member of Congress

Mary Peltola
Mary PeltolaPhoto: Campaign photo

Former Republican governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has lost a special election in Alaska to replace deceased Rep. Don Young (R). Democrat Mary Peltola thumped Palin and Republican Nick Begich III to take the seat.

The last time a Democrat held the seat was 49 years ago. Begich’s grandfather, Mark Begich, was the last Democrat to serve in Congress. His uncle, also a Democrat, is a former U.S. Senator.

Peltola, a former state legislator, celebrated her 49th birthday with the news that she had won the ranked-choice voting. The election was held in August, but absentee ballots could still arrive after Election Day and the results were tabulated after that time period had elapsed.

Peltola will be the first Alaska Native and first woman to serve as Alaska’s sole representative.

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, Democrats have swept election after election, putting Republican chances of recapturing the majority in both chambers of Congress in jeopardy. Women in particular have turned to the ballot box to express their anger at Republicans for pushing anti-abortion measures that outlaw the procedure in some states – even in cases of rape or the health of the mother.

“Alaskans have made clear they want a rational, steadfast, honest, and caring voice speaking for them in Washington, D.C., not opportunists and extremists associated with the Alaska Republican Party,” state Democratic party chair Michael Wenstrup said in a statement to the media after the election was decided.

Peltola’s campaign was notable for being positive and not attacking her vulnerable opponents. While Palin attacked her fellow Republican, she called Peltola a sweetheart and didn’t launch attacks against her.

“The region where I’m from, there is a big premium on being respectful, on not using inflammatory language or harsh tones,” Peltola told NPR.

“It’s been very attractive to a lot of people to have a message of working together and positivity and holding each other up and unity and as Americans none of us are each other’s enemy,” she said. “That is just a message that people really need to hear right now.”

All three candidates will face off again in the general election to determine who will hold the seat in the next Congress.

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