After a Democrat won a special election last week for Alaska’s largest congressional seat, East Gov. Sarah Palin on Monday called on fellow Republican Nick Begich to withdraw from November’s congressional race so the GOP can unite behind one candidate.
Palin and Begich lostLast week to fill Congressman Don Young’s remaining term, , In Alaska’s new rank-choice voting system, Peltola was announced as the winner of the special election after a process of elimination, bringing her above the 50% threshold required to win.
All three candidates are on the ballot again in November for a full two-year term. Alaska’s primary system allows the top four vote getters to be on the ballot, so independent Chris Bye will also be on the November ballot.
Palin said Monday that “splitting the Republican vote” is the only reason the Democrat from Alaska is leading Congress for the first time in nearly 50 years.
“The time has come for the GOP to unite, we need to unite behind our candidacy and start today with Nick Begich withdrawing from the race,” Palin told a news conference in Wasilla. She said her opponent “needs to swallow a little pride” and went on the campaign trail in support of her.
Begich responded Monday that he would travel to Alaska and told voters that the election was a choice between him and Peltola.
“We are confident that we are on a positive path to victory in November,” Begich said in a statement.
Monday was the deadline for candidates to opt out of the November general election.
In the early figures for the August 16 special election, Peltola was ahead in the fray with nearly 40% of the vote. Palin was second with 30.9%, while Republican businessman Nick Begich came third with 26.2%.
On August 31, the Alaska Division of Elections tabulated the final results during a public livestream. Peltoa won with 51.47% of the support after Begich’s votes were redistributed to the candidate of his electorate’s second choice.
According to election officials in Alaska, Begich’s 15,445 voters listed Peltola as their second choice, while 27,042 put down Palin as their second choice. Despite those votes, the final tally showed Peltola with 91,206 votes to Palin’s 85,987.
“Ranked choice voting showed that Palin did not have enough support from the people of Alaska to win the election, and that her performance in particular as a former gubernatorial and vice presidential candidate was embarrassing,” Begich said.
This is Palin’s first campaign since stepping down as governor of Alaska in 2009. She has been backed by former President Donald Trump, who held a rally in support of her in Alaska in July.
Palin and Begich have been attacking each other for months. The attack is likely to escalate with both of them in the running for November’s election.
On Monday, Palin called Begich a “loser” and said “it wouldn’t make sense” because she was ahead of him in the special election. She added that if Begich stays in the race “you’ll be able to see us not only talking, but walking down the path that we haven’t started the fight yet.”
Aaron Navarro contributed to this report.