Sarah Palin Loses Special Election for Alaska's Only House Seat to Democrat Mary Peltola

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin

Pete Marovich/Getty Images Sarah Palin

In a historic election, Sarah Palin has lost her bid to serve out the remainder of Republican Rep. Don Young's term in the U.S. House, which ends in January. Rep. Young died in March at age 88.

The results from the State Review Board were announced live via Facebook Wednesday night, revealing that Democratic candidate Mary Peltola brought in 91,206 votes, while Palin's count was 85,987.

With her victory, Peltola becomes the first Democrat to hold the seat in 50 years and also the first woman and first Indigenous Alaskan.

The special election on Aug. 16 marked the first time Alaska voters used ranked-choice ballots in a general election. State officials allowed a large window of time for mail-in ballots to arrive, delaying the final results.

While the special election has finally come to a close, Palin remains on the campaign trail. That's because Alaska voters still need to decide who will fill Rep. Young's seat for the upcoming term that begins in 2023.

Though it's reasonable to assume that the November general election will produce a similar outcome to August's special election — given that voters are choosing from the same pool of candidates — nothing is set in stone.

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The special election process, which came after Alaska voters approved a ranked-choice voting initiative in 2020, had voters rank their top candidates in order of preference. If a candidate won more than 50% of first-choice votes, they would win the race outright. But if not, the ranked-choice comes into play, with the lowest-ranking candidates being eliminated, round by round, until one person on the ballot receives more than 50% of the votes.

Palin's opponents in the concurrent House races have included the state-backed Republican candidate Nick Begich and a former state representative, Peltola. Palin earned the endorsement of former President Donald Trump early on in the campaign, giving her an immediate boost in a once-crowded field.

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This was Palin's first bid for office since she left politics in 2009 when she resigned as governor of Alaska after an unsuccessful bid for vice president. She was previously the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. Palin publicly weighed a run for president in 2012 but decided against it.

In a statement announcing her candidacy for the House, she said: "Public service is a calling, and I would be honored to represent the men and women of Alaska in Congress, just as Rep. 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."

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In recent months, Palin has been in the headlines for non-political reasons.

Earlier this year, she took the stand in her suit against The New York Times for libel over a past editorial that falsely linked her political group's statements to a mass shooting.

While the suit was ultimately dismissed (a federal judge said Palin failed to prove the Times acted with "actual malice"), it helped spark a relationship with retired New York Rangers player Ron Duguay, which comes two years after her 2020 divorce from ex Todd Palin after three decades of marriage.