Sarah Palin loses Alaska special election

Former Republican vice presidential candidate defeated by Democratic challenger and Alaska Native Mary Peltola

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Republican candidate Sarah Palin has lost her special election for Alaska's only House of Representatives seat to Democratic challenger Mary Peltola, blunting the former vice presidential candidate's hopes of a political comeback.

Ms Peltola will become the first Alaska Native and woman to hold the state's seat in the House and the first Democrat to hold the seat since 1972.

“I don’t think there will be another birthday like today,” said Ms Peltola, who turned 49 on Wednesday.

Her victory is a boost for Democrats, who have fared well in special elections in the months since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade.

Ms Peltola, a former state politician, characterised herself as a “regular Alaskan” during the campaign.

“I’m not a millionaire,” she said. "I’m not an international celebrity."

Ms Palin as former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate to the late John McCain in 2008, had widespread name recognition in the state, as well as the backing of former president Donald Trump.

“Though we’re disappointed in this outcome, Alaskans know I’m the last one who’ll ever retreat,” Ms Palin said in a statement.

Questions surrounded Ms Palin's commitment to Alaska in the run-up to the special election, citing her decision to resign as governor part of the way through her term in 2009. The Republican would go on to appear in reality TV programmes and become a conservative political commentator.

Democrat Mary Peltola, at a temporary office space in Anchorage, Alaska, hours after results showed her to be the winner in the state’s special US House election. Reuters

Before the special election, Ms Palin said she had “signed up for the long haul”.

Alaska voters in 2020 approved a new election process that replaced party primaries with open primaries.

Under the ranked-voting system, ballots are counted in rounds. A candidate can win outright if they receive more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first round. If that threshold is not met, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Voting rounds continue until two candidates remain and whoever has the most votes wins.

Ms Palin called the ranked voting system “crazy convoluted, [and] confusing”.

Ms Peltola will serve the remaining four months of the term of Republican US Representative Don Young.

On November 8, she, Ms Palin and Republican Nick Begich III will compete in an election to fill the Alaska seat in Congress for the next two years.

Updated: September 01, 2022, 5:20 PM