Incumbent Alaska Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola has defeated her general election challengers including former Gov. Sarah Palin to represent Alaska’s at-large congressional district for a full term in the House, The Associated Press projects.
Alaska’s sole congressional district is currently represented by Democrat Rep. Mary Peltola after she won a special election in August to fill the remainder of former GOP Rep. Don Young’s term, which ends in January 2023.
Four candidates advanced to the November general election in August, including Peltola, Palin, Republican Nick Begich, and libertarian Chris Bye.
The general House election in Alaska uses ranked-choice voting, a system approved by Alaska residents in 2020 that dismissed the state’s previous election method consisting of partisan primary elections ahead of general elections. Under ranked-choice voting, candidates of all parties in the general election appeared on the same ballot.
Ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference on their ballots. Should one candidate receive a majority of first-preference votes, that individual is declared the winner in the race. However, if no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. Following the elimination of the candidate who received the least amount of first-preference votes, voters’ second-preference choices are evaluated and a new tally is established to determine whether a candidate in the race has received a majority of the vote. That process is repeated until a candidate wins over 50 % of the vote.
Palin, in an opinion piece published by the Anchorage Daily News in October, said the ranked-choice voting system, used for the first time in the special election won by Peltola, had “produced the travesty of sending a Democrat to Congress to represent Alaska, one of the reddest states in the country.”
The candidates in the race were all provided with an opportunity late last month in a debate to address concerns among voters including record-high inflation, gas prices and salmon distribution — a key issue specific to Alaska’s fisheries.
Palin, who also sought to fill Young’s seat in the August special election, was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the race. Palin served as the late Sen. John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential election and formerly served as governor of Alaska from 2006 until her resignation in 2009.
“Inflation is at a 40-year high, and we are in a recession. It’s a shame our president and his [Democratic] Party refuse to acknowledge that we are suffering from a recession,” Palin remarked.
“We need to drill baby, drill,” she added. “Energy costs are the driver of inflation. Energy costs affect everything that we do in America [and] everything that we consume.”
Peltola admitted during the debate that the U.S. was in a recession and said we have “astronomically high inflation rates across the country.”
“This is especially true in Alaska when you compound that with shipping costs,” the congresswoman said.
He added: “The dysfunctional energy policy this administration has brought upon us has been a factor for inflation.”