TagSpecial Elections

Mary Peltola (D) wins special U.S. House election in Alaska

Mary Peltola (D) won the Aug. 16 special U.S. House election in Alaska, according to results released Aug. 31. In the final round of unofficial ranked-choice voting tabulation, Peltola had 51.5% of the vote to Sarah Palin’s (R) 48.5%. This election fills the term ending Jan. 3, 2023.

Before ranked-choice tabulation began, Peltola had 40% of first-choice votes, followed by Palin with 31% and Nick Begich III (R) with 28%. Write-in candidates received a combined 1.6% of the vote.

Write-in candidates were eliminated first as a batch. Then Begich was eliminated. The votes of those who chose eliminated candidates as first choices were redistributed to the voters’ second-choice candidates if they chose such.

Peltola will be Alaska’s first Democratic U.S. representative since Nick Begich Sr.—Nick Begich III’s grandfather. Begich Sr.’s plane went missing while he was in office in 1972. Don Young (R) won a special election to succeed Begich. Young served until his death in March of this year.

Peltola, Palin, and Begich will meet again in the regularly scheduled general election for U.S. House on Nov. 8. That election will also use ranked-choice voting.

Alaska holds top-four primaries. Independent Al Gross also advanced from the special primary election in June having placed third, but Gross withdrew from the race.

As of September 2022, 14 special elections have been held for the 117th Congress, and there are three upcoming special elections scheduled to take place.

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Pat Ryan and Joe Sempolinsk win New York congressional special elections

Two special general elections were held for New York’s 19th and 23rd Congressional Districts on August 23, 2022. Pat Ryan (D) won the District 19 special election with 65,943 votes and defeated Marcus Molinaro (R). The special election was called after Antonio Delgado (D) left office to serve as the lieutenant governor of New York on May 25. Delgado served from 2019 to 2022.

Joe Sempolinski (R) won the District 23 special election with 38,749 votes and defeated Max Della Pia (D). The special election was called after Tom Reed (R) left office on May 10, after previously stating that he would not run for re-election. Reed served in Congress from 2010 to 2022. 

The filing deadline for both special elections passed on June 14. As of August 2022, 12 special elections have been held for the 117th Congress in 2021 and 2022. The U.S. House has 220 Democrats, 211 Republicans, and 4 vacancies. New York’s congressional delegation has 18 Democrats, 7 Republicans, and 2 vacancies. All 435 U.S. congressional seats are up for election on November 8. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats. 

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Preliminary results from Alaska’s special U.S. House election

A special election to fill Alaska’s At-Large Congressional District in the U.S. House was held on Aug. 16. Sarah Palin (R), Nicholas Begich III (R), and Mary Peltola (D) ran. Al Gross (I) also advanced from the June 11 top-four primary, but he withdrew from the race on June 20.

This election will use ranked-choice voting. Alaska Beacon reported that election officials will not begin ranked-choice tabulation until at least Aug. 31, the deadline for ballots to arrive and be counted in the special election. As of 1:00 a.m. ET on August 17, Mary Peltola (D) had 37.2% of first-choice votes, followed by Sarah Palin (R) with 32.8% and Nicholas Begich (R) with 28.7%.

Former Rep. Don Young (R) died in March.

Begich 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 entered the regular U.S. House primary election before Young’s death. Begich campaigned on his business background, saying he could “make the business case for Alaska effectively down in D.C.”

Palin served as governor of Alaska from 2006 to 2009 and was John McCain’s (R) vice presidential running mate in 2008. Palin campaigned on her record as governor, which she said included taking “meaningful steps toward energy independence, passing bipartisan ethics reform, and facilitating the biggest private sector infrastructure project in U.S. history.” Palin said after Young’s death, “As I’ve watched the far left destroy the country, I knew I had to step up and join the fight.”

Peltola served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009 and was interim executive director of the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission as of the special election. Peltola said she was a “[p]roven legislative leader and coalition builder.” She emphasized her background in fishing and made marine resource management a key campaign issue. Peltola also highlighted that she is an Alaska Native woman and said, “Our elected officials have not been representative of our state.”

In 2020, voters in Alaska passed Ballot Measure 2 in a 50.55%-49.45% vote. The measure established open top-four primaries for state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices and ranked-choice voting for general elections.

In addition to the special election, Alaska is holding a separate regularly scheduled election for the U.S. House.

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Brad Finstad (R) wins special election in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District

Brad Finstad (R) defeated Jeff Ettinger (D) in a special election to fill the seat representing Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House on Aug. 9, 2022. The special election filled the vacancy left by Jim Hagedorn (R), who died while in office on Feb. 17, 2022.

This was the 11th special election to take place during the 117th Congress. Five more are scheduled for future dates. This session, one special election has caused a seat to change party control. In Texas’ 34th Congressional District, Mayra Flores (R) won the seat previously held by Filemon Vela (D).

Since the 113th Congress, an average of 11 special elections have been held each session. The most elections held was 17 during the 115th Congress. Special elections during this time have resulted in a net change of four seats gained for Democrats and four seats lost for Republicans.



Pat Ryan and Marc Molinaro are running in the special election for New York’s 19th Congressional District

Pat Ryan (D) and Marc Molinaro (R) are running in the special election to fill the seat representing New York’s 19th Congressional District in the U.S. House on August 23, 2022. Former incumbent Antonio Delgado (D) resigned after Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) selected him as lieutenant governor. The winner of the special election will serve the rest of Delgado’s term that ends on January 3, 2023.

The special election is one of two elections for New York’s 19th District in 2022. The other is the regularly scheduled election on November 8.

The boundaries of the 19th District changed in 2022 due to redistricting. The special election will be held under the old district lines, while the November election will be held in the newly redrawn district. The old district has a partisan lean of R+4, according to FiveThirtyEight, while the redrawn district has a partisan lean of R+1. 

“The current 19th is a swing district, and the special election has outsized national implications, as it will determine the size of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives for the remainder of the 117th Congress,” said The Times Union’s Timmy Facciola. “The victor will also gain incumbent status before the November midterm elections, for which both Molinaro and Ryan have declared their candidacies in New York’s newly drawn districts,” Facciola added.

Molinaro is running to represent the 19th District in both the special and November general elections. Ryan is running for the 19th District in the special election and for the redrawn 18th District in the November general election.

Ryan has served as Ulster County executive since 2019. A tech entrepreneur and former Army intelligence officer, Ryan has highlighted his military service and business experience. Ryan has also focused on abortion, saying, “I fought to defend the freedoms of this country and access to abortion is a fundamental freedom.” Ryan ran in the 2018 Democratic primary for the 19th District, finishing in second place with 18% of the vote to Delgado’s 22%.

Molinaro has served as Dutchess County executive since 2012 and was the Republican nominee for governor of New York in 2018, losing to incumbent Andrew Cuomo (D) 57% to 36%. Molinaro has highlighted his support for measures that encourage investment in digital assets. Molinaro’s website says, “Blockchain technology […] has the potential to provide a system of online banking to those who have never before had access.”

Both candidates have focused on opioid addiction and mental health issues. Ryan said he directed investments from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to local mental health programs. “We saw suicides in Ulster County during the pandemic double. We saw fatal opioid overdoses up 93 percent,” Ryan said. “So a lot of what we’re doing with the Rescue Plan funds at the local level is reinvesting in mental health,” he added.

Molinaro said he supports expanding access to mental healthcare and addressing “the country’s mental and behavioral health crisis through local community needs.” On opioid addiction, Molinaro said he supports opening crisis stabilization centers, creating a local opioid response grant program, and addressing the trafficking of illegal drugs such as fentanyl. “We can end this epidemic, but we must do so by treating it as [a] public health crisis and the people suffering from it with dignity and care,” Molinaro said.

As of July 16, 2022, 16 special elections have been called during the 117th Congress. From the 113th Congress to the 116th Congress, 50 special elections were held.



Alaska’s U.S. House top-four primary is on Aug. 16

A top-four primary will take place on Aug.16, 2022, in Alaska’s At-Large Congressional District to determine which four candidates will run in the district’s general election on Nov. 8, 2022.

All candidates will appear on the same ballot with their affiliations listed next to their names. The general election will use ranked-choice voting.

Former Rep. Don Young (R) died in March 2022. The regularly scheduled election is one of two elections, alongside a special election, for Alaska’s at-large House district in 2022.

Twenty-two candidates are on the regular primary ballot: nine undeclared or nonpartisan candidates, nine Republicans, one Democrat, and three third-party candidates.

Fifteen of the candidates also ran in the special primary election to fill the remainder of Young’s term. Nicholas Begich III (R), Sarah Palin (R), and Mary Peltola (D) advanced from the June 11 special primary. Al Gross (I) also advanced but withdrew from the race. Begich, Palin, and Peltola are running in both the special general election and the regular primary election on Aug. 16. Tara Sweeney (R) placed 5th in the special primary and is also running in the regular primary.

Young was first elected to the U.S. House in 1973.

Additional reading:

United States House of Representatives special election in Alaska, 2022



Previewing Alaska’s RCV special general election for U.S. House

A special election to fill the seat representing Alaska’s at-large district in the U.S. House will be held on Aug. 16. Sarah Palin (R), Nicholas Begich III (R), and Mary Peltola (D) are running. Al Gross (I) also advanced from the June 11 top-four primary, but he withdrew from the race on June 20. In the special primary, Palin received 27% of the vote, Begich 19%, Gross 13%, and Peltola 10%.

Former Rep. Don Young (R) died in March.

Begich 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 entered the regular U.S. House primary election before Young’s death. Begich is campaigning on his business background, saying he can “make the business case for Alaska effectively down in D.C.”

Palin 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 record as governor, which she says includes taking “meaningful steps toward energy independence, passing bipartisan ethics reform, and facilitating the biggest private sector infrastructure project in U.S. history.” Palin said after Young’s death, “As I’ve watched the far left destroy the country, I knew I had to step up and join the fight.”

Peltola served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009 and is interim executive director of the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. Peltola calls herself a “[p]roven legislative leader and coalition builder.” She emphasizes her background in fishing and prioritization of marine resource management as a key campaign issue. Peltola also highlights that she is an Alaska Native woman.

The Alaska Republican Party endorsed Begich. Former President Donald Trump (R) backed Palin. Five primary candidates endorsed Peltola: independents Gross* and Santa Claus and Democrats Christopher Constant, Mike Milligan, and Emil Notti.

All 48 primary candidates ran on the same ballot. The 16 Republican primary candidates received 58% of the vote combined. The 22 candidates running as nonpartisans or undeclared received 24%. Six Democratic candidates received 17%. The remaining 1% of voters chose a third-party candidate. Gross, the nonpartisan candidate with the most votes, ran for U.S. Senate as a Democrat in 2020.

The special primary was the first top-four congressional primary in U.S. history. The special general election will use ranked-choice voting.

*Gross also endorsed Tara Sweeney (R), but the state supreme court ruled she could not advance to the general election.

Additional reading:

United States House of Representatives special election in Alaska, 2022 (June 11 top-four primary)

Alaska Ballot Measure 2, Top-Four Ranked-Choice Voting and Campaign Finance Laws Initiative (2020)



Flores wins Texas’ 34th Congressional District special election

Mayra Flores (R) defeated Dan Sanchez (D), Rene Coronado (D), and Juana Cantu-Cabrera (R) in a special general election for Texas’ 34th Congressional District on June 14. The previous incumbent, Filemon Vela (D), resigned on March 31, 2022.

The Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek said, “The winner of the special election will only get to finish Vela’s term, which extends until January. But Republicans are eager to capture the seat as they try to gain new ground in South Texas, and the special election is happening under the previous, more competitive boundaries of the 34th District. The November election for a full term in Congress will be held under new district boundaries that were redrawn during last year’s redistricting process.”

Sanchez is a lawyer and was a county commissioner for Cameron County. Sanchez also served as a justice of the peace for Cameron County from 2003 to 2010. “I’m running for Congress to finish Congressman Filemon Vela’s term because South Texas deserves a representative who will focus on what matters: lower costs, affordable healthcare, safe communities, and a secure retirement,” Sanchez said.

Flores is a respiratory care practitioner and also served as the Hidalgo County GOP Hispanic outreach chair. In addition to running in the special election, Flores is also on the ballot for the regular general election on Nov. 8 after advancing from the March 1 Republican primary. Flores said the election would “set the tone for the entire nation in the upcoming midterms” and that “South Texas is ready for true conservative leadership in office.”

The special election was held under previous district lines in which Pres. Joe Biden won by four points in the 2020 election. The November election will be held in the newly redrawn district where Biden would have won by over 15 points, according to the Texas Tribune.



Four candidates running in Texas’ 34th Congressional District special election

Four candidates are running in a special general election to fill the seat representing Texas’ 34th Congressional District in the U.S. House on June 14, 2022. The special election will fill the vacancy left by Filemon Vela (D), who resigned effective March 31, 2022.

Dan Sanchez (D) and Mayra Flores (R) have led in media attention and fundraising. Rene Coronado (D) and Juana Cantu-Cabrera (R) are also running. The Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek said, “The winner of the special election will only get to finish Vela’s term, which extends until January. But Republicans are eager to capture the seat as they try to gain new ground in South Texas, and the special election is happening under the previous, more competitive boundaries of the 34th District. The November election for a full term in Congress will be held under new district boundaries that were redrawn during last year’s redistricting process.”

Sanchez was elected county commissioner for Cameron County in 2011 and previously served as justice of the peace for Cameron County from 2003 to 2010. “I’m running for Congress to finish Congressman Filemon Vela’s term because South Texas deserves a representative who will focus on what matters: lower costs, affordable healthcare, safe communities, and a secure retirement,” Sanchez said. Sanchez received endorsements from Vela and U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D).

Flores’ career experience includes working as a respiratory care practitioner. She also served as the Hidalgo County GOP Hispanic Outreach Chair. Flores said the election would “set the tone for the entire nation in the upcoming midterms” and that “South Texas is ready for true conservative leadership in office.” Flores received endorsements from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), Texas GOP chair Matt Rinaldi (R), and the Congressional Leadership Fund.

In addition to running in the special election, Flores is also on the ballot for the regular general election for District 34 on Nov. 8 after advancing from the March 1 Republican primary. Vicente Gonzalez Jr. (D) advanced from the March 1 Democratic primary and will also be on the general election ballot.

Prior to resigning, Vela had represented the distinct since 2013. In the 2020 general election, Vela defeated Rey Gonzalez Jr. (R) with 55% of the vote to Gonzalez Jr.’s 42%.

If no candidate earns a majority of the vote in the general election, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election. According to the proclamation announcing the special election, a runoff election would likely be held in August.



Thirty-nine state legislative special elections scheduled for 2022

Thirty-nine state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 19 states in 2022. Fourteen special elections have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had controlled 11 of the seats, and Republicans controlled three. No seats have changed party control as a result of special elections this year.

Upcoming special elections include:

Mar. 1

  • Connecticut House of Representatives District 5
  • Michigan House of Representatives District 15 (primary)
  • Michigan House of Representatives District 36 (primary)
  • Michigan House of Representatives District 43 (primary)
  • Michigan House of Representatives District 74 (primary)

Mar. 5

  • Delaware House of Representatives District 4

Mar. 8

  • Florida State Senate District 33
  • Florida House of Representatives District 88
  • South Carolina House of Representatives District 97 (primary)

By this time in 2021, 27 special elections had been called in 16 states. There were 33 special elections called in 15 states by this time in 2020. No seats flipped in the 14 special elections that had taken place between the two years; six in 2021 and eight in 2020.

An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even-numbered years. An average of 85 special elections took place in the past six odd-numbered years. Between 2011 and 2021, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.

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