(The Hill) – Former Alaska state Rep. Mary Peltola (D) was projected to defeat former Gov. Sarah Palin (R) to win the special election to fill the remainder of the late Rep. Don Young’s (R-Alaska) term in the House, a stunning upset that makes her the first Alaska Native in Congress.
Peltola, a Yup’ik Eskimo, will also be the first Democrat to hold the seat in decades. The last time a member of her party was elected to represent the state’s at-large congressional district was in 1971.
Her apparent victory came after votes were tabulated late Wednesday as part of the state’s new ranked-choice voting system.
Prior to her congressional run to fill Young’s seat, Peltola represented the southwestern Bethel region as a state lawmaker for a decade and has also served on the Bethel City Council and Orutsararmiut Native Council Tribal Court.
Peltola also ran in the primary for the same seat but whose term would begin in 2023. She advanced in the primary as she was one of the top four vote-getters in Alaska’s open primary system.
Other candidates who also advanced in that primary included not just Palin but also Nick Begich (R), the former co-chair for Young’s 2020 reelection campaign.
In the general election, which is slated for November, the state will also use ranked choice voting, where the candidate to receive more than 50 percent of the vote prevails in the election.
But if no one gets more than half of the votes, the candidate with the fewest votes gets knocked out and any voters who chose that eliminated candidate as their first pick has their second choice votes applied to the applicable candidates. The process continues until one candidate receives more than half of the votes.