Politics

Republicans Palin and Begich remain in race to unseat Peltola in U.S. House

Sarah Palin

Despite calls for each other to drop out in order to improve Republican chances, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will appear with fellow GOP candidate Nick Begich III on the general election ballot for the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House against Democrat Rep.-elect Mary Peltola and Libertarian Chris Bye.

The state’s withdrawal deadline passed at 5 p.m. Monday with both Palin and Begich ignoring calls to drop out.

Earlier in the day, Palin held a hastily called Labor Day news conference at her Wasilla home after finishing second to Peltola last week in the ranked choice special election to fill the remainder of the term of the late Rep. Don Young, the long-serving Republican who died in March.

Peltola, Palin, Begich and Bye will now face each other in the November general election to serve a full two-year term in Congress starting in January.

The Alaska Republican Party is encouraging Alaskans to “rank the red” for the ranked choice general election, meaning voters would mark their ballots for both GOP candidates to try to help the party regain control of Congress.

In an Instagram post on Monday morning, complete with a white flag of surrender, Palin wrote that “Republicans must unite” and “I know when to take one for the team.”

Mary Peltola, Nick Begich, Nick Begich III, Sarah Palin, candidate, candidates, politician, politics

“I’m calling on negative Nick Begich to get out of this race,” Palin told reporters and supporters gathered on the lawn outside her Lake Lucille home Monday. “He does not represent the best of Alaska. He represents the good old boys network, the establishment and yes, the liberals, the liberals in the Democrat Party. Only a Democrat sympathizer would selfishly stay in this race after getting thumped three times, three times in a row by his GOP opponent, just to enable a Democrat to hold the Alaskan people’s seat in the United States House of Representatives.”

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[ADN Politics podcast — How Mary Peltola won Alaska’s special election for U.S. House]

Palin said she had no intention of quitting the race.

“Sorry, Nick. I never retreat, I reload,” she said.

Soon after, Begich said in a written statement that he had no intention of dropping out of the race.

Palin has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who’s also endorsing Republican Kelly Tshibaka in her run against Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Murkowski voted to impeach Trump.

The Lake Lucille news conference was held on the same spot where Palin, elected governor in 2006, announced she was resigning as governor in July 2009. She refuted Begich’s assertions that she quit to pursue a career in reality television, saying that she had been clobbered with “fake ethics violations” and lawsuits, which meant she couldn’t enact her agenda.

She said she has spent the intervening years campaigning for “common sense conservatives” across the U.S., and she rejected suggestions that she had moved away from Alaska.

After criticizing Begich at length, and questioning his background, she said Alaskans are “disgusted by all this negative campaigning,” but that she had to speak up against Begich’s “lies” about her family and record.

Sarah Palin

Later Monday, Begich’s campaign issued a statement saying he was staying in the race: “We are confident that we are on a positive trajectory to win in November,” his campaign wrote.

Begich said Palin’s performance in the race had been “embarrassing” as a vice presidential candidate and governor and that her high unfavorable ratings among Alaska voters means she can’t win a statewide ranked choice election. He has previously called on Palin to withdraw and said that Alaskans want someone “less polarizing” than the former governor.

“I will continue traveling the state, making the case that this election is about a choice between Mary Peltola and Nick Begich,” he added.

[Watch: Alaska U.S. House candidates debate at oil and gas industry conference]

Begich requested and received an endorsement from the Alaska Republican Party State Central Committee in April. A party spokesperson said that If both candidates stay in the race that Alaskans should “rank the red,” meaning to vote for both Republicans, to help keep the seat Republican.

Palin on Monday again railed against Alaska’s new ranked choice voting system, calling it “weird,” “whack” and “cockamamie.” She said that it had “disenfranchised” Alaska voters by sending Peltola to Congress to fill the remainder of Young’s term, effectively empowering President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lock up Alaska’s resources.

In the days after the election, Peltola resisted being characterized as a hardline Democrat, calling herself “moderate” and “middle of the road.”

Congress, Elecion, Sarah Palin, U.S. House, voting

About half of Begich voters in the special congressional election voted for Palin as their second choice, but more than a quarter of Begich voters ranked Peltola second, crossing party lines. A fifth of his voters did not rank any candidate as their second choice, contributing to Peltola’s advantage.

Alaska pollsters have said their voter research suggests Palin’s high negatives with many Alaska voters make Begich a stronger challenger to Peltola than Palin.

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A spokesman for Peltola’s campaign said she would be traveling to Washington, D.C., next week and would be sworn in on Sept. 13 to serve the remainder of Young’s term.

Maguire reported from Juneau and Goodykoontz and Herz reported from Wasilla. Maguire and Goodykoontz are ADN reporters; Herz is a contributor.

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Related:

For Mary Peltola, a sudden shift to national spotlight after winning Alaska’s special U.S. House election

Democrat Mary Peltola wins special U.S. House election, will be first Alaska Native elected to Congress

A ‘good day to be Yup’ik’: Alaska Natives celebrate Peltola’s win in U.S. House special election

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Sean Maguire

Sean Maguire is a politics and general assignment reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Juneau. He previously reported from Juneau for Alaska's News Source. Contact him at smaguire@adn.com.

Emily Goodykoontz

Emily Goodykoontz is a reporter covering Anchorage local government and general assignments. She previously covered breaking news at The Oregonian in Portland before joining ADN in 2020. She earned her degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. Contact her at egoodykoontz@adn.com.

Nathaniel Herz

Nathaniel Herz is an Anchorage-based journalist and a former reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He’s been a reporter in Alaska for nearly a decade, with stints at ADN and Alaska Public Media, and has written for FasterSkier.com, The Washington Post and others. Read his newsletter, Northern Journal, at natherz.substack.com

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