Alaska Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola and Republican Sarah Palin rank among the two top leaders in the state’s House race, though the winner will unlikely be confirmed for several days under the state’s new ranked-choice voting system.
Peltola currently leads with 47.34% of the vote (101,236), with Palin at 26.66% (57,005), fellow Republican Nick Begich at 24.27% (51,896), and Libertarian Chris Bye at 1.74% (3,716). An estimated 70% of the votes have been counted so far, according to DecisionDeskHQ.com. Republicans have so far combined for 50.93% of the overall votes.
The contest marks a rematch between the two top voter-getters in the state’s August special election to replace Rep. Don Young (R), who passed away earlier this year.
Peltola won the special election in August based on receiving more second-place votes despite only reaching 40% of the overall vote total.
The special election saw Peltola receive 40%, Palin 31%, and Begich 28% in the first round. Since no single candidate received at least half of the votes, the top two candidates remained, with the second-place votes added from those who chose Begich as their first choice. Peltola then defeated Palin 51.5% to 48.5%.
With her win, Peltola became the state’s first indigenous person elected to Congress. She has campaigned on fighting climate change, strengthening affordable health care, increasing abortion rights, and defending the LGBTQ Equality Act.
The August win came as a shock to many Alaskans. Palin was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the race and spent four times the amount of money spent by the Peltola campaign, according to Politico.
Republicans have controlled the House in the state for decades, with Young serving nearly 50 years in his role prior to his death. Trump also defeated President Joe Biden by 10 points in Alaska in 2020.
The final outcome of the ranked-choice vote was not announced until August 31, a full two weeks after the election. The timeline in the general election may be similar, with the winner unknown for up to two weeks.
In addition to Peltola and Palin, Begich was again on the November general ballot, this time joined by Libertarian Chris Bye.
After the August special election, Palin and Begich both called for one another to drop out of the race to help secure a victory. Neither candidate would do so, leading to a new strategy. The party then moved to a new “rank the red” emphasis for the general election.
“This is the rule of the road now. We have ranked-choice voting, and until that’s gone, we have to rank the red,” Palin said, according to Alaska Public Media.
Both Palin and Begich have encouraged voters to mark their ballots with both GOP candidates as one and two to ensure a Republican wins.
The Daily Wire previously reported an odd turn of events in Alaska, with Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Rep. Peltola endorsing one another in the ranked-choice vote.
“I do not toe the party line just because party leaders have asked or because it may be expected,” Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News. Murkowski also voted to convict Trump after the events of January 6, 2021, and has been a strong anti-Trump opponent.
Peltola added that she also plans to rank Murkowski as her first choice as senator.
“I’m voting for her, so we’re even-steven,” Peltola said, according to the Washington Post.