Previewing Alaska’s second U.S. House election of 2022

Incumbent Rep. Mary Peltola (D), Nicholas Begich III (R), Sarah Palin (R), and Chris Bye (L) are running for Alaska’s at-large congressional district on Nov. 8, 2022. Peltola, Begich, Palin, and Tara Sweeney (R) advanced from the Aug. 16, 2022, top-four primary. Sweeney withdrew, meaning Bye, the fifth-place finisher, advanced.

Peltola won the special general election also held on August 16. Former Rep. Don Young (R), who’d held office since 1973, died in March 2022. Peltola, Begich, and Palin ran in the special election, which used ranked-choice voting (RCV). The regular election will also use RCV.

Peltola (D) served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009 and was interim executive director of the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission ahead of the special election. Peltola said, “To summarize our campaign in one sentence: I’m pro-jobs, pro-choice, pro-fish, and pro-family.” Peltola said she represents all Alaskans and is working to advance bills Young supported.

Begich (R) founded a technology development company and co-founded a company that invests in startups. He co-chaired the Alaska Republican Party Finance Committee and Young’s 2020 re-election campaign. Begich said he’d make “the business case for Alaska” and that he is equipped to help improve the economy by cutting spending and controlling taxes.

Palin (R) served as governor of Alaska from 2006 to 2009 and was John McCain’s (R) vice presidential running mate in 2008. Palin is campaigning on her previous experience in office and says she has the “grit to match anti-Alaskans like AOC, Pelosi, and Biden.”

Bye (L), an Army veteran and fishing guide, said in his response to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, “I am running because both primary political parties have run this nation into the ground. They both have forsaken Freedom and Liberty by transitioning away from governance and towards activism and corporate protectionism.”

Begich and Palin have asked their supporters to rank themselves first and the other Republican candidate second on their ballots, saying the state needs a Republican U.S. representative.

Begich and Palin have also criticized one another. Begich criticized Palin’s TV appearances and said Alaska voters are “looking for someone who’s serious about the state.”

Palin called Begich “Negative Nick” regarding his campaign ads opposing her and said that “the people of Alaska are disgusted by this negative campaigning.”

In the August special election, Peltola received 40% of the vote to Palin’s 31% and Begich’s 29% on the first round of tallying. After votes from those who chose Begich as their first choice were redistributed, Peltola defeated Palin 51.5% to 48.5%.

The 2022 elections are the first to use the state’s election system that voters approved via ballot measure in 2020, involving top-four primaries and RCV general elections.

The outcome of this race will affect the partisan balance of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 118th Congress. All 435 House districts are up for election. As of Oct. 10, Democrats held a 220-212 majority in the U.S. House with three vacancies. Republicans need to gain a net of five districts to win a majority in the chamber.

Donald Trump (R) defeated Joe Biden (D) in Alaska 53.1% to 43% in the 2020 presidential election.

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