Peltola to become first Alaska Native, first female Alaska congresswoman
JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Democrat Mary Peltola will become the first Alaska Native representative in Congress and Alaska’s first female congresswoman, winning the ranked-choice election to replace the late Republican Rep. Don Young.
Peltola — a former state legislator and Yup’ik woman from the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta — defeated Republican former Gov. Sarah Palin and Republican Nick Begich.
In a Facebook live stream from Division of Elections Director of Elections Gail Fenumiai on Wednesday, Peltola was announced as the winner.
“I’m honored and humbled by the support I have received from across Alaska,” Peltola said in a press release. “I look forward to continuing Don Young’s legacy of bipartisanship, serving all Alaskans and building support for Alaska’s interests in DC.”
The video showed that Begich’s 53,756 first-place votes were redistributed according to the second choice marked on each ballot. Palin picked up an additional 27,045 bringing her cumulative total to 85,987. Peltola picked up an additional 15,445 votes giving her 91,206 — putting her 51.47% of votes cast above the 50% threshold needed to name Peltola as the winner. There were 2,971 write-in votes cast, according to the division.
Peltola will serve the remaining four months of Young’s term and Alaskan voters will again select who will be their lone representative in Congress in the November general election.
In the U.S. House primary leading up to that race, Peltola, Palin and Begich will advance, with Libertarian Chris Bye seeming poised to advance following Republican Tara Sweeney announcing she was dropping out.
“We built a great deal of momentum in a short time,” Peltola said. “I plan to continue introducing myself to Alaskans and working to earn their trust.”
Speaking to Alaska’s News Source after the results came out, Palin encouraged Begich to “take one for the team” and criticized the ranked-choice voting system.
“If he could take one for the team — the team being Alaska — that’s what I would do. Had I not prevailed as that second, I would have said, ‘You know what, what can we do to ensure — even when costing me personally, potentially a position in Congress — what can we do to ensure that Alaska’s future is secure?’” Palin said.
She went on to say regarding Peltola that “as a person, I love her” but admitted they represent “very polarizing views.”
Begich released a statement congratulating Peltola. He also questioned how Peltola will represent Alaskans and encouraged voters not to vote for Palin in the general election.
“The biggest lesson as we move into the 2022 General Election, is that ranked choice voting showed that a vote for Sarah Palin is in reality a vote for Mary Peltola,” Begich wrote. “Palin simply doesn’t have enough support from Alaskans to win an election.”
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