Former Alaska Republican Governor Sarah Palin has called on her fellow GOP House candidate Nick Begich to drop out of the November midterm race.
Palin made the plea during a Monday news conference following a loss to Democrat Mary Peltola in the state’s special House election to replace Republican Rep. Don Young, who passed away earlier this year.
Palin and Begich combined to take 60% of the vote, yet Peltola was declared the winner due to taking the most votes in the state’s new ranked-choice vote system.
All three candidates will again face off in the November midterm election, where Palin and Begich could again divide the conservative vote and leave a Democrat in office for the next two years. Palin urged Begich to step down to clear the path for her to receive at least 50% of the vote and avoid the loss she endured in August.
“He keeps calling me a quitter,” Palin said during the news conference outside her Wasilla home. “Now he wants me, the one who is clearly the only true conservative in this race who can win, he wants me to quit! Now that’s the real joke. Sorry, Nick. I never retreat. I reload.”
Begich’s campaign responded that he does not intend to drop out of the Alaska House race.
“We are confident that we are on a positive trajectory to win in November,” Begich said. “Ranked choice voting showed that Palin simply doesn’t have enough support from Alaskans to win an election and her performance in the Special was embarrassing as a former Governor and Vice Presidential candidate. Pollsters have been telling us for months that Sarah Palin cannot win a statewide race because her unfavorable rating is so high. These same polls have consistently shown that Alaskans are looking for a less polarizing alternative.”
The fellow GOP candidate’s statement claimed he has continued to increase his percentage of the vote and that the election comes down to a choice between himself and Peltola.
“I have introduced myself to Alaskans, I have steadily increased my percentage of the vote since the June 11 Special Primary election. I will continue traveling the state, making the case that this election is about a choice between Mary Peltola and Nick Begich,” he said in a statement.
The controversy has also highlighted concerns with the state’s new ranked-choice system that was voted into place by Alaskans in 2020.
“Ranked-choice voting is a scam to rig elections,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tweeted.
“60% of Alaska voters voted for a Republican, but thanks to a convoluted process and ballot exhaustion — which disenfranchises voters — a Democrat ‘won,’” the senator wrote in a second post.
Peltola has refrained from focusing on the ranked-choice system, with her campaign instead highlighting her win in confirmed in the House special election that she will defend in November.
“Alaskans have made clear they want a rational, steadfast, honest and caring voice speaking for them in Washington D.C., not opportunists and extremists associated with the Alaska Republican Party,” state Democratic party chair Michael Wenstrup said in a statement following the announcement of her victory last week.