Democrat Mary Peltola advances in Alaska’s special election for US House

By Associated Press

Updated: 39 minutes ago Published: 52 minutes ago

Democrat Mary Peltola has joined three other candidates in advancing to the August special election for Alaska’s only U.S. House seat.

The four candidates with the most votes in last Saturday’s special primary advance to an Aug. 16 special election. Peltola, a former state lawmaker, joins Republican former Gov. Sarah Palin (with 27.6% of the vote), Republican businessman Nick Begich (19.3%) and independent Al Gross (12.7%) in moving forward in the race. Peltola received 9.4% of the vote, according to the latest round of preliminary election results updated Friday afternoon.

They emerged from a field of 48 candidates who ran for the seat left vacant following Republican Rep. Don Young’s death in March. Young held the seat for 49 years.

Peltola, who is from the Southwest Alaska hub community of Bethel, was one of just six Democrats in the field.

Friday marked a third day of ballot counting. Counts also were conducted Saturday and Wednesday. A final count was planned for Tuesday.

All candidates competed on the same ballot under an elections process approved by voters in 2020 that ends party primaries and implements ranked choice voting for general elections. The August special election will feature ranked voting. The winner of that contest will serve the rest of Young’s term, which ends in January.

An August primary and November general election will decide who serves a two-year House term beginning in January. Palin, Begich, Gross and Peltola are all running in that race.

[One election down, three to go: Here’s what’s next in Alaska’s U.S. House race]

Peltola served five terms in the Alaska House, ending in 2009, and most recently has been executive director of a commission aimed at rebuilding salmon resources on the Kuskokwim River.

Peltola said she wants to use her campaign to elevate issues of food insecurity and ocean productivity. A subsistence lifestyle — relying on fish, plants and other wildlife — is critical in rural Alaska, including in many Alaska Native communities, where the cost of goods is high and villages may only be accessible by plane.

Peltola is Alaska Native and grew up fishing.

She said she worked for six years for a company that is seeking to advance a gold mine project in Southwest Alaska. Her campaign said she left that role following a tailings impoundment failure at a mine site in Canada.

She said her litmus test for any development project is “social license to operate. I am not sure that there is social license to operate on Donlin, and I defer to that.” A number of tribes in the region are opposing the project.

[Chris Constant ends bid for Alaska’s U.S. House seat, endorses Peltola]

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