History Made As Congress’ First Alaskan Native Wins Partial House Term

ANCHORAGE, AK -- Thursday, May 12, 2022: Mary Peltola (Photo by Ash Adams for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former state lawmaker Democrat Mary Peltola made history Wednesday night, as she won the remainder of the late Rep. Don Young’s (R-AK) term. She’ll be the first Alaskan native to ever serve in Congress. 

Election officials revealed the (still technically unofficial) results of the state’s first ranked-choice election — held on Aug. 16 — after a lengthy delay for the remainder of the mail-in ballots to arrive and be tabulated. 

After the second round of tabulating, Peltola had 51.5 percent of the vote to Sarah Palin’s 48.5.

Palin was attempting a political comeback after a decade out of the fray. Some political analysts had warned that Palin’s mud-slinging fest with fellow Republican Nick Begich would split the Republican vote, making each too radioactive for GOP voters to rank second. Such infighting could only benefit the Democrat.

Peltola will have the chance to serve for longer than the next few months. She’s also in the running for the seat’s next full term, and advanced through the top-four primary earlier this month. That ranked-choice election will take place in November, where she’ll again face Palin and Begich, along with Libertarian Chris Bye. Former Trump aide Tara Sweeney finished fourth in the primary, but subsequently dropped out, opening the spot for Bye.

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