Representative Mary Peltola was elected to a full term in the House, according to the Associated Press. Peltola fended off three conservative challengers, defeating Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich, as well as Libertarian Chris Bye. Results of the ranked choice election were announced on Wednesday.
The Alaska Democrat first won the seat in an August special election following the death of longtime Republican Rep. Don Young. Peltola, who is Yup’ik, is the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress and the first woman to hold Alaska’s House seat — as well as the first Democrat to do so since 1972. She served out the remaining months of Young’s term before vying to serve a full term in the November election.
“What’s most important is that I’m an Alaskan being sent to represent all Alaskans,” Peltola told reporters after the special election was called. “Yes, being Alaska Native is part of my ethnicity, but I’m much more than my ethnicity.”
During the campaign, Peltola cast herself among a coalition of Democrats, centrists and Alaska Natives supporting her “pro-family, pro-fish” platform. While Palin and Begich fought for the conservative vote, Peltola called for more civility in politics and stood for abortion rights. Peltola, who was part of a commission working to rebuild salmon in Alaska’s Kuskokwim River, emphasized concerns with ocean productivity and a need to support struggling fisheries.
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Palin’s loss marks a significant blow for the former Alaska governor and Sen. John McCain’s running mate, who positioned her campaign as her great political comeback. Throughout her campaign, she relied on former president Donald Trump’s endorsement and her reputation as a political black sheep, a strategy that appears to have backfired. “We have been mocked and ridiculed and falsely accused and told to sit down and shut up. The stuff that you’ve heard about me — it’s a lie,” she claimed during a July rally. “I’m way worse than what you’ve heard.”
During a speech in October, reported by AP, Peltola spoke of her priorities for the new term and “working very hard on getting our inflation rates down, our shipping costs down, getting costs down for working families and all Alaskan households.”