Sarah Palin Loses Alaska Special Election

By Terrance Turner

August 31, 2022

Democrat Mary Peltola has won a special election for Alaska’s lone House seat, defeating former Gov. Sarah Palin. (Palin received 48.5% of the vote compared to 51.5% for Peltola, according to CNN.) This win is a historic one: Peltola is the first Democrat to win that seat in 50 years. She will become the first Alaskan Native to serve in Congress.

Peltola emerged as the victor on Wednesday, when Alaska’s Division of Elections tabulated ballots. Alaska used the ranked-choice system for voting, in the state’s first use of the system. (Elections in Alaska now start with an “open” primary, in which voters of all parties can participate. Then, in the general election — instead of just voting for one of the top four candidates — voters rank their preferences in order.)

News of Palin’s bid for the House seat broke back in April. According to NPR, the former vice-presidential candidate filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for the late Don Young’s U.S. House seat. (Mr. Young, the longest-serving Republican in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives, died last month at the age of 88; he had served since 1973.)


“Today I’m announcing my candidacy for the U.S. House seat representing Alaska. Public service is a calling, and I would be honored to represent the men and women of Alaska in Congress, just as Don Young did for 49 years. I realize that I have very big shoes to fill, and I plan to honor Rep., Young’s legacy by offering myself up in the name of service to the state he loved and fought for, because I share that passion for Alaska and the United States of America.

I first entered politics 30 years ago, when I was elected to city council in Wasilla. I still live in Wasilla; my family is here; my son goes to school here. My heart will always be in Alaska, even when I’m representing this great state in Washington, D.C.,” Palin said in a statement today.

America is at a tipping point. As I’ve watched the far left destroy the country, I knew I had to step up and join the fight. The people of the great state of Alaska, like others all over the country, are struggling with out-of-control inflation, empty shelves, and gas prices that are among the highest in the world. We need energy security for this country, and Alaska can help provide that — but only if the federal government gets out of the way and lets the free market do what it does best.”

“At this critical time in our nation’s history, we need leaders who will combat the left’s socialist, big-government, America-last agenda,” Palin wrote. She echoed much of the GOP’s talking points, going on to decry inflation and illegal immigration.


This was Palin’s first major run for office since her unsuccessful VP bid in 2008. Chosen by then-presidential candidate John McCain, Palin was initially viewed as a “game-change” candidate who would excite the conservative base and improve the GOP’s polling with women. But after a well-received speech at the Republican National Convention, Palin began to falter. Perception of her as under-informed and unprepared burgeoned after a series of interviews with journalist Katie Couric.

After a perplexing exchange in which she answered a question about foreign policy by asserting that Russia were “our next-door neighbors”, Palin was asked her opinion on the emergency economic bailout that the Bush administration was proposing:

COURIC: Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families, who are struggling with healthcare, housing, gas and groceries, allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That’s why I say, I, like every American I’m speaking with, we’re ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the tax payers looking to bail out, but ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping tho— it’s got to be all about job creation too, shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track, so healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as— competitive— scary thing, but one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

CNN commentator Jack Rafferty lambasted the comments. He warned the viewers: “If John McCain wins this woman will be one 72-year-old’s heartbeat away from being President of the United States. And if that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, it should.” He continued, calling the clip “one of the most pathetic pieces of tape I have ever seen from someone aspiring to one of the highest offices in this country.”

After she and McCain lost the election to Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Palin resigned from her post as Alaska governor in 2009. Since then, she has released two books, “Going Rogue” and “America by Heart,” starred on her own TLC reality series “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” and served several stints as a Fox News contributor. She was also a contestant on Fox’s “The Masked Singer” in 2020. Now, she re-enters the political arena in a climate where her populist politics have become an integral part of Republican rhetoric.

A special primary will happened June 11 and the special general election took place on August 16, the same day as Alaska’s statewide primary. The contests will be the first to use the state’s new election system, where all candidates run on a single ballot in the primary and the top four candidates advance to the general election. In the general election the winning candidate will be determined by ranked-choice voting, according to CNN.

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