Following the special election last week for Alaska’s at-large congressional seat, former Gov. Sarah Palin called on fellow Republican Nick Begich to withdraw from the November congressional race so that the GOP could unite behind a single candidate.
Palin and Begich were defeated by Democrat Mary Peltola in last week’s special U.S. House election to fill the remainder of Congressman Don Young’s term, which expired in March. Peltola was declared the winner of the special election after an elimination process in Alaska’s new ranked-choice voting system propelled her above the 50% threshold required for victory.
In November, all three candidates will be on the ballot for a full two-year term. Because Alaska’s primary system allows the top four vote-getters to appear on the ballot, independent Chris Bye will appear on the November ballot as well.
Palin stated on Monday that the only reason a Democrat from Alaska is running for Congress for the first time in nearly 50 years is to “split the Republican vote.”
“It is time for the GOP to unite behind my candidacy, and that starts today with Nick Begich withdrawing from this race,” Palin said at a press conference in Wasilla. She said her opponent “needs to swallow a little pride” and campaigned for her.
Begich responded on Monday, saying he’ll travel across Alaska to tell voters that this election is between him and Peltola.
Begich said in a statement, “We are confident that we are on a positive trajectory to win in November.”
The deadline for candidates to withdraw from the general election in November was Monday.
According to preliminary results from the Aug. 16 special election, Peltola led the field with nearly 40% of the vote. Palin finished second with 30.9%, and Republican businessman Nick Begich finished third with 26.2%.
During a public livestream on Aug. 31, the Alaska Division of Elections tabulated the final results. Peltoa received 51.47% of the vote after Begich’s votes were redistributed to his supporters’ second-choice candidate.
According to Alaska election officials, 15,445 of Begich’s voters chose Peltola as their second choice, while 27,042 chose Palin. Despite those votes, Peltola received 91,206 votes to Palin’s 85,987 votes in the final tally.
Begich stated that “ranked choice voting demonstrated that Palin simply lacks enough support from Alaskans to win an election, and her performance in the special was embarrassing as a former Governor and Vice Presidential candidate.”
This is Palin’s first campaign since she stepped down as governor of Alaska in 2009. Former President Donald Trump has endorsed her, and he held a rally in Alaska in July to support her.
Palin and Begich have been going at it for months. With both candidates remaining in the race for the November election, the attacks are likely to intensify.
On Monday, Palin called Begich a “loser” and said “it would make no sense” for her to drop out of the race because she finished ahead of him in the special election. She said if Begich stays in the race “you’ll be able to see us not just talking the talk but walking the walk that we’ve not yet begun the fight.”