JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican Nick Begich and Independent Al Gross qualified for August’s special election for the state’s only seat in the House of Commons. United States.
Palin and Begich, both Republicans, and Gross, an orthopedic surgeon, were among 48 candidates in last Saturday’s special primary for the seat, which remained vacant following the March death of Republican Rep. Don Young. Young had held the seat for 49 years.
The top four voters in the special primary qualify for a special election, scheduled for August 16, in which ranked-choice voting will be used. The winner of that race will serve the remainder of Young’s term, which ends in January.
State election officials released additional vote tallies on Wednesday, the first day since the special primary in which the counts were taken. Additional counts are scheduled for Friday and next Tuesday.
With 132,730 votes counted, Palin had 28.3%, followed by Begich with 19.3% and Gross with 12.8%. Democrat Mary Peltola had 8.7% and Republican Tara Sweeney had 5.5%.
The election was unusual in that it was conducted primarily by mail. It was also the first election under a voter-approved system in 2020 that ends party primaries and institutes ranked voting for general elections.
Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, rose to significant prominence in a field that also included current and former state lawmakers and a North Pole City Council member whose name is Santa Claus. Many candidates were strangers.
Begich comes from a family of prominent Democrats, which includes uncles Mark Begich and Tom Begich, both of whom served in elected office. Gross ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2020 with the endorsement of state Democrats. Alaska Democratic Party leaders in this race have urged voters to choose a Democrat.
Peltola, who was one of six Democrats on the ballot, is a former state lawmaker. Sweeney was Under Secretary for Indian Affairs in the US Department of the Interior during the Trump administration.
Palin released a statement on election night, saying she was grateful to her supporters “who voted to make Alaska great again!”
She said she looked forward to the special election so she could “highlight our ideas for fixing this country by responsibly developing Alaska’s God-given natural resources, reining in rampant government spending , protecting human life, protecting the right to keep and bear arms”. , and restore respect for individual liberty and the Constitution.
Palin, who is running for the first time for elected office since stepping down as governor midway through her term in 2009, has boasted endorsements from a number of national figures, including former President Donald Trump. Palin was an early supporter of Trump during his 2016 presidential bid, and he appeared on a conference call for her the week before the election.
An August primary and November general election will decide who serves a two-year term in the House beginning in January. Palin, Begich and Gross run in this race.
An email seeking comment on the special primary was sent to Begich’s campaign manager on Wednesday.
Begich’s grandfather, Democratic U.S. Representative Nick Begich, held the House seat before Young. In 1972, the elder Begich was running against Young when Begich’s plane went missing on a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. Begich was nevertheless re-elected.
He was later pronounced dead, and Young in 1973 won a special election for the seat. Young held the seat until his death at age 88.
Young Begich also had ties to Young. He served as co-chair of Young’s 2020 re-election campaign.
He started running for the House seat last fall and presented himself as someone who could bring new energy to the role. It was endorsed by a number of conservatives and by the Alaska Republican Party.
Begich, at a campaign forum with three other Republican candidates last month, acknowledged that people might be surprised that a Begich is a Republican. He said he was raised “conservative” by grandparents in Florida.
Begich said he wanted to present a “business case” for the state, including the need to develop the state’s vast natural resources.
Gross crossed paths with some Democrats earlier this year after an interview in which he did not commit to caucusing with Democrats if elected. He later said he would.
Gross’s campaign said Gross does not plan to seek endorsement from the Democratic or Republican parties.
Gross noted that the largest bloc of registered voters in Alaska identify as independent and said Alaska needs a “new leader who represents all Alaskans, not just part of Alaska.” And I believe I am that guy.
During his 2020 run, Gross sought to play on his good faith in Alaska, including with an ad that said he “killed a grizzly bear in self-defense after it snuck up on him.” His campaign also ran a cute ad referring to Gross as the “bear doctor.”
This time Gross is playing it differently. He has a campaign leadership team that includes Republicans, independents and Democrats, including former Governor Tony Knowles.