Representative-Elect Mary Peltola reacts to her Special Election win

Mary S. Peltola has emerged as the winner in the state's first ranked choice election, having...
Mary S. Peltola has emerged as the winner in the state's first ranked choice election, having taken 51.47 % of the votes in the last count.(KTVF)
Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 5:26 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Division of Elections certified the results of the 2022 Special Election to fill the state’s vacant seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

With this election, Alaska held the first test of its ranked-choice election system, voted into law in 2020.

Three candidates vied for the position, Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich, and Democrat Mary Peltola.

In the second round of tabulation, Peltola emerged victorious. “It’s still very unreal, and I’m still getting used to the idea, and it’s overwhelming,” she said.

Her opponents reacted on social media, with Begich congratulating Peltola on her win and encouraging her to embrace resource development to help working families.

Palin, meanwhile, said in a statement that she will not retreat, but will reload.

Peltola attributed her win to a campaign focusing on the issues that matter to Alaskans. “I think most Alaskan households are very concerned with making sure they have jobs with livable wages, appropriate housing options, affordable housing options, access to affordable health care, good schools.”

Her election carries historic significance, being the first Alaska Native member of Congress. “We have often not had a seat at the table, so this is definitely something we’re celebrating.”

However, Peltola stressed that she plans to represent all Alaskans. “I am more than my ethnicity and my gender and the place that I am from,” she said.

She now looks to November, where a second election will determine who sits in the Representative’s chair starting in January.

On that ballot, Peltola will face Begich and Palin again, in another ranked-choice vote. She explained, “I am optimistic about ranked-choice voting. I did vote for it when it was on the ballot two years ago as an initiative, and I’m very hopeful that it will create a system where we have more middle-of-the-road, moderate candidates who really reflect Alaskans.”

Palin, on the other hand, in her statement decried ranked choice voting as not reflecting the will of the people, and Begich in his statement stressed that in November, a vote for Palin is a vote for Peltola because Palin lacks sufficient support from Alaskans to win.

Peltola says she is scheduled to be sworn into her new position on September 13. At that time, she expects to get a lay of the land in Washington, D.C. “I’m looking forward to building positive relationships and seeing where we can coalition-build to really look at solving some of Alaska’s challenges.”

The Alaska Division of Elections certified the results of the Special Election on Friday.