JUNEAU, Alaska ( Associated Press) – Former Government of Alaska. Sarah Palin, Republican Nick Begich and independent Al Gross have advanced to the August special election for the state’s lone US House seat.
Palin and Begich, both Republicans, and Gross, an orthopedic surgeon, were among 48 candidates in last Saturday’s special primary for the seat, which was left vacant after the death of Republican Representative Don Young in March. Young held the seat for 49 years.
The top four vote-getters in the special primary advance to a special election, scheduled for August 16, in which rank-choice voting will be used. The winner of that race will serve the remainder of Young’s term, which ends in January.
State election officials were releasing additional counting on Wednesday, the first day after the special primary, in which the counting of votes was conducted. Additional calculations are planned for Friday and next Tuesday.
With 132,730 votes counted, Palin received 28.3%, followed by Begich with 19.3% and Gross with 12.8%. Democrat Mary Peltola received 8.7% and Republican Tara Sweeney received 5.5% of the vote.
The election was unusual in that it was mainly conducted by mail. It was also the first election in 2020 under the voter-approved system, which eliminates party primaries and institutions voting for general elections.
Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, gained significant name recognition in an area that also included current and former state legislators and North Pole City Council members named Santa Claus. Many of the candidate relatives were unknown.
Begich comes from a family of prominent Democrats, including uncles Mark Begich and Tom Begich, who have both held elected office. Gross ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 2020 with the backing of state Democrats. In this race, leaders of the Alaska Democratic Party urged voters to choose Democrats.
Peltola, who was one of six Democrats on the ballot, is a former state legislator. Sweeney was the Assistant Secretary of State for Indian Affairs in the US Department of Home Affairs during the Trump administration.
Palin issued a statement on election night, saying she was grateful to her supporters “who voted to make Alaska great again!”
She said she looked forward to the special election so that she “can highlight our ideas for healing this country by responsibly developing Alaska’s God-given natural resources, bringing government spending under control, reducing the cost of human life.” protect, defend the right to bear and bear arms, and restore individual liberty and respect for the Constitution.”
In making her first bid for the elected position since resigning as governor in 2009, Palin touted the support of several national figures, including former President Donald Trump. Palin was an early supporter of Trump during his 2016 presidential bid, and he attended a telereli for him a week before the election.
An August primary and November’s general election will decide who serves a two-year House term beginning in January. Palin, Begich and Gross are running in that race.
An email seeking comment on the particular primary was sent Wednesday to Begich’s campaign manager.
Begich’s grandfather, Democratic US Representative Nick Begich, had a House seat before Young. In 1972, the elder Begich was running against Young when Begich’s plane disappeared on a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. Begich was nevertheless elected.
He was later pronounced dead and Young won a special election for the seat in 1973. Young held this position until his death at the age of 88.
The younger Begich was also related to Young. He was the co-chair of Young’s reelection campaign in 2020.
He started running for the House seat last time and presented himself as someone who could bring new energy to the role. He has been endorsed by many conservatives and the Alaska Republican Party.
Begich admitted last month during a campaign forum with three other Republican candidates that people might be surprised that Begich is a Republican. He said he was raised “conservatively” by grandparents in Florida.
Begich said he wanted to make a “business case” for the state, including the need to develop the state’s vast natural resources.
Gross got into trouble with some Democrats after an interview earlier this year in which he committed not to work closely with Democrats if elected. Later he said that he would.
Gross’s campaign has said that Gross has no plans to seek support from the Democratic or Republican parties.
Gross noted that the largest faction of registered voters in Alaska identify as independents, adding that Alaska needs a “new leader who represents all parts of Alaska, not just a part of Alaska.” And I believe I am that man.”
During his 2020 run, Gross sought to play up his Alaskan bona fides, most notably with an ad that said he “killed a grizzly bear in self-defense when he pounced on it.” His campaign also ran a flashy advertisement referring to Gross as a “bear doctor”.
This time Gross is playing it differently. He has a campaign leadership team that includes Republicans, independents and Democrats, including former Gov. Tony Knowles.