September 2

By Elliott Davis Jr.

The political comeback of Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, hit a snag late Wednesday after she lost the special election for Alaska’s at-large congressional seat to a Democrat despite the backing of former President Donald Trump.

Democratic candidate Mary Peltola, an Alaskan native, won the election after about two weeks of vote counting, as called by The Associated Press. The seat was vacated following the March death of Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young.

But Palin, Alaska’s former governor, had already advanced to the November general election in the state’s first instance of open primaries since voters approved a new process in 2020. The four top vote-getting candidates in each Alaska race are advancing to Election Day, where there will be ranked-choice voting for the first time in the state.

Peltola will look to win a full term in Congress against Palin and Nick Begich III, another Republican. The Democrat and former state representative was the leading vote-getter in the primary as well, with Palin finishing in second. Peltola won the special election by almost 9 percentage points – a good sign for Democrats heading into the November midterms. The Cook Political Report had previously rated Alaska as a strong Republican state for 2022.

“Thank you to all Alaskans who have put their faith in me as the first woman in Alaska’s history to represent our state in the House of Representatives,” Peltola said on Twitter. “Tonight, we’ve shown that we can win as a campaign that is pro-choice, pro-fish, pro-worker, and pro-Alaska.”

Palin had been endorsed by Trump – but that hasn’t necessarily been a problem for other candidates during the primary season so far. Several Trump-backed candidates in states such as Connecticut, Maryland and Wisconsin have defeated more establishment Republicans in primaries this year. Another, Kelly Tshibaka, has already advanced to the November election for one of Alaska’s Senate seats, currently held by Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

“Though we’re disappointed in this outcome, Alaskans know I’m the last one who’ll ever retreat,” Palin said in a statement, according to the AP, while also calling Alaska’s ranking voting system “crazy, convoluted, confusing.”