Sarah Palin loses to Democrat Mary Peltola in Alaska special election

The election is the first one run under the state's new ranked-choice system. The special election was called after the death of Young, 88, who was first elected in 1973.

Former Republican Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin speaks at the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland February 26 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Former Republican Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin speaks at the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland February 26
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Mary Peltola, a Democratic former state lawmaker, won a special election to fill Alaska's sole US House of Representatives seat, becoming the first Alaska Native to represent the state in Congress, the Alaska Division of Elections announced on Wednesday.

She defeated Republican former Governor Sarah Palin by 51.47% to 48.53%. Palin is widely known for her unsuccessful vice presidential run with John McCain in 2008.

Peltola will finish the remainder of the term of Republican Representative Don Young, who died earlier this year, and will face re-election on November 8.

She is the first Alaska Native to represent a state where almost 20% of the population is Indigenous, the highest proportion in the United States.

Candidates' political background

Palin's campaign for the House seat was her first run for public office after the McCain loss. She is seen as having helped open the door to a more far-right wing of the Republican Party.

 US House candidate Mary Peltola speaks with reporters at her campaign party at 49th State Brewing in Anchorage, Alaska, US August 16, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/KERRY TASKER) US House candidate Mary Peltola speaks with reporters at her campaign party at 49th State Brewing in Anchorage, Alaska, US August 16, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/KERRY TASKER)

During her campaign, Peltola ran as "Alaska's best shot at keeping an extremist from winning," according to her campaign website. She highlighted her status as "the only candidate in this race who isn't a multi-millionaire."

The election is the first one run under the state's new ranked-choice system, with voters listing candidates in order of preference on the ballot. A candidate must clear 50% of the vote to be declared the winner.

The special election was called after the death of Young, 88, who was first elected in 1973.

The winner of the special election will serve out Young's term, which expires at the end of this year. Palin, Peltola and Republican Nick Begich III will vie in a November 8 election to fill the seat for the next two years.