Sarah Palin will advance in Alaska’s Wild House special primary election, CNN projects

Palin will be joined in the August 16 special general election by Republican Nick Begich III, the grandson of former Democratic Representative Nick Begich, whose plane went missing in 1972 and was never found, as well as independent Al Gross, who lost a 2020 Senate race and said he would caucus with Democrats, CNN projects.

Votes are still being counted to determine fourth place, with two candidates who could each go down in history as the first Alaskan native elected to Congress – former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola and Republican Tara Sweeney, which was backed by a state coalition. Indigenous Societies – in fourth and fifth place among ballots counted so far. Santa Claus, a North Pole city councilor and democratic socialist, is in sixth place.

Lawyer and gardening columnist Jeff Lowenfels, former Republican State Senator John Coghill, Democratic Anchorage Assemblyman Christopher Constant, Democratic State Rep. Adam Wool and US Senator State Republican Josh Revak, who was endorsed by Young’s widow, are also among the contenders.

The results came after one of the craziest primaries in the country – one that featured Palin; Christmas ; Begich III, an Alaska Republican-backed conservative from the state’s most prominent Democratic family; and a host of former aides and allies of Young.

Under Alaska’s new electoral system, candidates from all parties and those without party affiliation contest the same primary ballot, and the top four voters, regardless of party, qualify for the general election. .

Identifying the four candidates who will advance in the special House race could take time: Alaska has mailed ballots to every voter and will continue to count those postmarked by June 11 in the coming months. days. Final results will not be tabulated until a final tally 10 days after the primary.

The top four in the primary will face off in a special ranked general election on August 16, with the winner going to Congress. It will be Alaska’s first choice election since voters in the state narrowly approved a 2020 initiative to make the change. Under the ranked choice system, if no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes in the first round, a second round of counting will take place, with the first-place votes of the last runner-up then going to the second of those voters. choice, and so on.

It could be a daunting task for Palin: She is by far the best-known candidate in the race, but she could suffer if a large number of Democratic voters or those who remain angry at her decision to leave the governor’s office in 2009, less than three years into her sole term, rank her last.

Filling the former House seat with Young, who represented the state in the House from 1973 until his death in March, is a complicated process.

The August 16 winner will serve the remaining months of their term through January. But Aug. 16 is also the date for Alaska’s regular primary, in which voters will vote again to determine which four candidates will run in November’s regular general election for the full two-year term. It is possible that the results of the two races, featuring many of the same major contenders, will be different.

Palin launched her campaign with an almost immediate endorsement from former President Donald Trump, who said he was reimbursing her for her early support for her 2016 presidential bid. She held a rally in Anchorage in early June that Trump called . But she’s been a relatively low-key presence on the campaign trail and hasn’t said how she sees herself fitting into today’s GOP in Washington.

Begich III launched his campaign for Congress before Young’s death. He had criticized Young’s penchant for luring federal dollars to projects in Alaska, arguing for a more tax-conservative approach to spending.

He is the nephew of former U.S. Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat, and the grandson of Nick Begich, the Democratic congressman who held the seat until 1972, when a plane he was traveling in went missing. . Young replaced him and has since been the only person to represent Alaska in the House.

Gross was backed by Democrats in his unsuccessful 2020 Senate race against Republican Senator Dan Sullivan. This time, however, the Alaska Democratic Party harshly criticized Gross after he suggested he might caucus with Republicans. He has since changed course, with his campaign citing the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe against Wade, but the state Democratic Party has continued to urge voters to select one of six registered Democrats. in the race.

Peltola, a Democrat who spent 10 years in the Alaska legislature, once represented a district roughly the size of Oregon. If elected, she would become the first Native person to represent Alaska in Congress.

“Whether it’s me or someone else, I think it’s high time we had an Alaskan native on our congressional delegation,” Peltola said in an interview last week.

Sweeney, the former undersecretary for Indian affairs in the United States Department of the Interior, is backed by Alaska Native Societies. Sweeney was Young’s campaign co-chair. She would also become the first Native person elected to represent Alaska in Congress.

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