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Peltola wins special election for U.S. House

Peltola _ Ruskin
Liz Ruskin
Alaska Public Media
Mary Peltola will be the first Alaska Native person to serve in Congress.

Mary Peltola will be Alaska’s next representative in the U.S. House.

The Democrat from Bethel kept her lead in the special general election for the seat after the state’s Division of Election tabulated the votes this afternoon in its first ranked-choice race.

After third-place candidate Republican Nick Begich III was eliminated and the second-choice votes were counted, Peltola led with 51.5 percent of the votes. Republican Sarah Palin, in second place, had 48.5 percent of the vote.

That means Peltola will serve out the remainder of Don Young’s term in Congress, through January. Peltola will be Alaska's first Alaska Native representative to Congress.

"It is absolutely phenomenal that an Alaska Native, and an Alaska Native woman, finally represents the state of Alaska in Congress," said Michele Vasquez, of Soldotna. Vasquez was the former chair of the Alaska Democratic Party for one of the central peninsula districts.

She said Peltola’s win is historic for a lot of reasons.

"Secondly, she’s a woman," she said. "And thirdly, she’s a Democrat. And there’s been no Democrat in that office since, of course, when Don Young was elected, which was in 1972."

Vasquez co-hosted a meet and greet with Peltola in Soldotna last month. She said her campaign has been focused on her pro-choice stance and passion for fish.

"She’s an extremely gracious and kind woman," she said. "And, of course, experienced. She served for a decade in the Alaska Legislature. So she is just an amazing woman. She was my choice from the start."

Most voters on the central Kenai Peninsula cast their first-choice votes for Palin, according to Division of Elections data updated Friday.

In House District 7, representing Kenai and Soldotna, about 45.3 percent of votes went to Palin, while 31 were for Begich and 22.5 percent went to Peltola.

In House District 8, representing the northern Kenai Peninsula, 49.2 percent of voters cast their ballots for Palin, while 28.5 percent voted for Begich and 21.3 percent voted for Peltola.

Peltola, Palin and Begich will face off again in the general election for the next Congressional term this November. Peltola will now enter that race as the incumbent.

Today’s results will be certified later this week.

Sabine Poux is the news director at KDLL. Originally from New York, she's lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont, where she fell in love with local news. She covers all things central peninsula but is especially interested in stories related to energy and fishing. She'd love to hear your ideas at
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