Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola of Alaska on Wednesday beat former governor and former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin to secure a full term.
Earlier this year, Peltola became the first Alaskan-born woman to be elected to Congress when she won a 48-candidate field vying to finish the remainder of Republican Rep. Don Young’s term after he died in March . Their win of Alaska’s only seat in the House of Representatives, held by a Republican for half a century, gave Democrats hope that the party could gain a foothold in Alaska. After her victory, the Cook policy report changed his prediction of the race from “probably Republican” to “toss-up”.
In the general election rematch, Peltola not only ran against Palin, but also Conservative Nick Begich III and Libertarian Chris Bye.
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Under Alaska’s new voting system, voters are allowed to rank their general election preferences, counting those votes in consecutive rounds until a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. The tally was released Wednesday, with Peltola winning 55%-45% against Palin in the final round.
After Peltola’s special election victory under the new system, Palin and members of the Republican Party criticized the ranking system, with Palin calling it a “cockamamie system” that was “very, very potentially fraudulent.”
Less than two weeks before the election, Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced that she would cross party lines and support Peltola.
“Mary is a woman whose heart is as deeply rooted in Alaska as any you will find,” Murkowski said. When asked directly by reporters if she would put Peltola first on her ballot, Murkowski replied, “Yes, I am. I’m going to get in so much trouble.”
When asked the same question, Peltola said, “I’m voting for her, so we’re straight — Steven.”
This was announced by pollster from Alaska, Ivan Moore Politically he found “the synergy between Peltola and Murkowski [to be] very interesting.”
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“They draw from essentially cohesive constituencies ranging from Democrats and independents, political moderates, women, [abortion rights supporters], Land dwellers, Alaska natives,” he said. “I mean, that was essentially the constituency writing on Lisa’s behalf in 2010. And it is categorically also the constituency of Mary Peltola. And so, even though the two come from different parties, they will feed each other’s energy [in November] in a way that bodes very well for them.”
A native of Yupik, Peltola worked as a herring and salmon technician for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game before turning to politics. Beginning in 1999, she served for ten years in the Alaska House of Representatives.