Alaska Votes: U.S. House candidates make last minute push for office
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Will Mary Peltola make history — again?
She was the first Alaska Native to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and also the first woman to represent the state in Congress. Additionally, she is the first Democrat in the job in almost 50 years.
Peltola won her seat through a special election, filling the remainder of Rep. Don Young’s term after he passed away in March.
Peltola will go before voters again in the midterm elections this Tuesday, hoping to turn her short two-month term into another two years. She is running against Republicans former Governor Sarah Palin, Nick Begich III and Libertarian Chris Bye.
Alaska’s News Source followed the four candidates for U.S. House as they wrapped up an intense campaign season this past week. Each projected a confident tone and confidence in their own win. Peltola has campaigned hard on protecting the fishing industry, second amendment rights, food insecurity and inflation.
“The No. 1 concern is inflation, on every single thing that we are buying and that we need, the inflation is out of control,” Peltola said. “It’s the worst we’ve had it in my lifetime, and we are at a point where we just have to set our differences aside and collectively work on all the different ways we can tackle inflation. So that is the No. 1 thing.”
In the final days leading up to the general election, the candidates have been flying, shaking hands, knocking on doors and introducing themselves at churches all in an attempt to get every last one of their supporters to the polls.
In Eagle River last week, Begich spoke to a crowd of his supporters as they sipped wine and ate dinner.
“You hear a lot of interesting feedback from folks,” Begich said. “People are concerned about the economy up here, they’re concerned about their futures up here, they’re concerned about making sure that there’s something for their children in Alaska.”
Bye flew to Anchorage this past Wednesday for last-minute door-knocking in Eagle River and South Anchorage. He said he hopes his campaign inspires others to run for office.
“It’s hard for a third-party candidate to get any traction,” Bye said. “And so, just to get up on the stage, so that other non-party affiliated members can see it can be done with $7,800, right, it can be done.”
During the special election, Begich and Palin split the conservative vote and did not actively encourage their supporters to put the other as a backup option during the first time around. Since Peltola’s victory that has changed.
“I’ve been encouraging people for six months, rank the red. Put me first, put Sarah Palin second, that’s the best opportunity for us to get this seat back,” Begich said.
Texts to Palin’s campaign manager were not returned. Palin’s most current campaign event was at the Anchorage Baptist Temple for an Alaska Republican Party event where she spoke for about a minute in front of a friendly crowd and then walked away from reporters before answering questions.
“Alaskans’ interests first,” Palin told the crowd. “We only do that by being united.”
In the Aug. 16 special general election to fill Young’s term, Peltola outperformed Palin by more than 12,000 first-place votes. Peltola received 70,295 total first-place votes while Palin came in second with 57,693 and Begich received 50,021. The 1,189 votes Bye received were elevated to fourth-place after Republican Tara Sweeney withdrew her candidacy for the November election.
Peltola’s victory was in large part due to the 15,445 voters who selected Begich first and Peltola second, helping the Yup’ik woman to become the first Alaska Native to represent the state in Congress.
The Nov. 8 race will determine who is elected to a full two-year term in the seat held for 49 years by Young.
Election results in many races may not be known until Nov. 23, which is the deadline for elections officials to receive ballots mailed from overseas addresses — and when ranked vote tabulations will take place.
Under ranked voting, a candidate can win outright if they win more than 50% of the vote in the first round. If no one hits that threshold, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Voters who chose that candidate as their top pick have their votes count for their next choice. Rounds continue until two candidates remain, and whoever has the most votes will win.
Polls close at 8 p.m. local time. Stay tuned to Alaskasnewssource.com for live updates all day from the final leg of the campaign trail and up-to-the-minute polling data as vote tallies are reported by the Alaska Division of Elections.
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