Palin, Begich, Gross and Peltola lead in special U.S. House election

Four candidates will advance to a special ranked-choice general election.

By: - June 11, 2022 11:06 pm

Al Gross, candidate for U.S. House in Alaska’s special primary election, is joined by supporters to wave signs on election day, Saturday, June 11, 2022. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Former Republican Gov. Sarah Palin is leading the early results in Alaska’s special primary election for U.S. House.

Palin, who had about 30% of the vote counted by 10:40 p.m. Saturday, was followed by Republican Nick Begich III with 19%, third is independent Al Gross at 12% and Democratic candidate Mary Peltola at 7%.

Additional votes will be counted until June 21, but the results are unlikely to change the order of the first through third candidates.

The four are among 48 candidates seeking a temporary seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The four people who receive the most votes in the primary will advance to a special ranked-choice general election on Aug. 16. 

The winner of that election will serve in Congress until January, when the winner of November’s general election will be sworn in. Palin, Begich, Gross and Peltola have all registered as candidates for the full term.

During the campaign preceding the election, Palin earned the endorsement of prominent national Republicans, including former President Donald Trump. 

Begich had been the leading Republican challenger to incumbent Congressman Don Young before Young’s death in March triggered the special election. Gross unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2020 and Peltola is a former state legislator who would be the first Alaska Native elected to Congress if she were to win.

Outside the top four, Republican Tara Sweeney had 5% of the vote, followed by North Pole independent Santa Claus at 4%.

A voter in Alaska’s special U.S. House primary election drops their ballot into a box on Saturday, June 11, 2022, as a poll worker observes. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

As of 10:40 p.m., elections officials had counted 108,981 ballots, and it wasn’t immediately clear how many remain to be counted. By the end of the day Saturday, about 139,000 ballots had been received, the vast majority by mail, but more ballots could arrive by mail through June 21.

The Alaska Division of Elections has said that additional results will be published June 15, June 17 and 21.

Because many voters made their choice before the final day of voting, many candidates kept a quiet schedule on election day, preferring household chores or yard work instead of campaigning.

There were exceptions — Al Gross waved signs with supporters in Juneau before boarding a plane to Petersburg, Sarah Palin walked with signs in Palmer’s Colony Days parade and other candidates hit the phones to reach potential voters.

The biggest drama of the day came from the Alaska Supreme Court, which said the election may be certified according to the schedule set by the Division of Elections.

The Supreme Court overturned a lower-court judge who had said that elections officials failed to properly accommodate blind and visually-impaired voters.

The lower-court ruling came in response to a lawsuit brought by the State Commission on Human Rights. Had that ruling stood, it could have delayed the results of the election.

Elections officials plan to certify the result on June 25.

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James Brooks
James Brooks

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he is married to Caitlyn Ellis, owns a house in Juneau and has a small sled dog named Barley. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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