Peltola defeats Palin, Begich in Alaska special election for US House of Representatives

Monday, September 5, 2022

Peltola at a Planned Parenthood rally in Anchorage on July 9, 2022.
Image: The Alaska Landmine.

Democrat Mary Peltola won a special election for Alaska's sole seat in the United States House of Representatives Wednesday, defeating Republican candidates Sarah Palin, former governor of the state, and Nick Begich III, grandson of former Representative Nick Begich Sr.

The special election was called after the death of Don Young, who was elected to the seat in 1973.

Though Peltola earned only 40.20% of the vote in the first round of tabulations, Alaska's instant-runoff voting system introduced in 2020 meant she defeated Palin with 51.47% of the vote after Begich, the candidate with the fewest votes, was eliminated. She will serve the remainder of Young's term until the November midterm elections, which Palin and Begich intend to challenge.

Peltola became the first Democrat to hold the seat since Begich Sr. was presumed to have died when his plane disappeared in 1972. Analyzing the results, CNN reporter Eric Bradner wrote Palin's defeat "sure to add to Republicans' growing concerns" in attempting to regain control of the House. However, FiveThirtyEight analyst Nathaniel Rakich identified Palin as a "very flawed", controversial candidate less likely than Begich to win against Peltola in a head-to-head matchup.

After Peltola's win, Palin claimed that the outcome was a result of the ranked-choice voting system, calling it "crazy, convoluted, and confusing". Meanwhile, Begich congratulated Peltola but claimed that "a vote for Sarah Palin is in reality a vote for Mary Peltola" since "Palin simply doesn't have enough support from Alaskans to win an election."