Representative Mary Peltola, an Alaskan Democrat and the first Alaskan Native woman to serve in Congress, won a full term in the House on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press, retaining three conservative challengers.
Ms Peltola first won the seat in a special election in August to complete the term of Representative Don Young, a Republican who died in March. Her win, which toppled the Democrats’ seat for the first time in 50 years, was seen as an upset against Ms Palin.
With her latest success, Ms. Peltola secured a full two-year term as Alaska’s sole state representative. The Republicans’ loss in the state guarantees they will hold 220 House seats – a very slim margin with only two races to call – as leaders had hoped to fill that majority with as many additional seats as possible.
Ms Peltola beat two of her Republican special-election rivals – Sarah Palin, the former governor and running mate, and Nick Begich III, who is part of a prominent liberal political family in Alaska – as well as Chris Bye, a libertarian.
State law allows absentee ballots to be counted up to 15 days after Election Day if they are postmarked and sent from outside the United States. Election officials decided to wait to count rounds of ranked voting until all ballots had been counted.
Because none of the candidates appeared to have won more than 50% of the vote as of Nov. 23 — 15 days after Election Day — Alaska election officials tabulated the next ballot after all ballots were counted.
While Ms Palin and Mr Begich split the Conservative vote, Ms Peltola rallied a coalition of Democrats, centrists and Alaska Natives behind her “pro-family, pro-fish” platform. A Democrat had not held the seat for half a century, since Mr. Young had beaten Mr. Begich’s grandfather, a Democrat.
Ms Peltola has worked to showcase her bipartisan credentials, often speaking openly about her friendship with Ms Palin during the campaign trail. With just a few seats determining which party controls the House, it could potentially play a vital role if Republicans seek to win Democratic votes for unavoidable legislation and any effort to approve bipartisan measures.
While Ms Peltola only took office in September, shortly before the midterm elections, she quickly took over pushing for the legislation Mr Young had introduced and hired several Republican aides in his team.
Ms. Peltola has also joined forces with her state’s two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, to pressure the Biden administration to reconsider a key drilling project in Alaska and ensure that a larger Federal support was given to the state after the remnants of a typhoon damaged it. some communities.
She received a moving and warm welcome at the Federation of Alaska Natives convention last month, where attendees waved cutouts of her face and endorsed her candidacy. Mr. Young’s family also endorsed her and filmed a commercial for her, bestowing her with one of their signature bolo ties.