Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska) was projected to win the race for Alaska’s at-large congressional district, delivering her a full term after she won a competitive special election this summer following the death of Rep. Don Young (R).
Peltola, a former state representative, beat former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R); Nick Begich (R), the former co-chairman for Young’s 2020 reelection campaign; and libertarian Chris Bye to hold the seat. She defeated the pair of Republicans over the summer to finish Young’s term in an unexpected victory that flipped the Last Frontier’s longtime GOP-held seat blue for the first time in decades.
Peltola earned 136,839 votes to Palin’s 112,255, Alaska’s Division of Elections headquarters reported Wednesday evening.
Begich was eliminated after winning just 64,392 votes, which under Alaska’s ranked choice voting system were then transferred to Peltola or Palin based on voter’s next choices.
Peltola tweeted “WE DID IT!!!” along with an animated video of crabs dancing after the results were released Wednesday night.
This cycle was the first time Alaska utilized a new ranked choice voting system.
Peltola’s special election victory this summer made her the first Alaska Native to win a congressional race and the first woman to represent Alaska in the House. She was recommended to serve on the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Education and Labor in her first months in Congress.
In late October, shortly before Election Day, two of Young’s children and one of his former staffers endorsed Peltola in the race for a full term following the late congressman’s death.
“My father believed in Alaska and Alaskan people, and Mary Peltola is going to carry on that legacy,” Dawn Vallely, one of Young’s two daughters, said in an ad the trio cut in support of Peltola.
In the final stretch of the campaign, both Palin and Begich urged voters to “rank the red,” a rallying cry touted by the Republican Party that encourages Alaskans to rank the two Republicans first in the state’s new voting system.
That effort, however, was not enough to shake support from Peltola, who is headed back to the Capitol for a full two years.
Peltola’s victory marks another loss for Palin, who sought a political comeback with the Alaska House race. In 2008, she joined then-Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) on the GOP presidential ticket as his running mate. In 2009, Palin resigned from the Alaska governorship.
Updated at 8:47 p.m.