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RESULTS: 48 candidates face off in an Alaska House special election

Sarah Palin, a Republican seeking the sole US House seat in Alaska, addresses supporters Thursday, June 2, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska.

Mark Thiessen/AP

Alaska is holding a 48-candidate special primary to fill the state’s at-large House seat left vacant after Republican Rep. Don Young died. Young held the seat for 48 years until his death in March. The election is being held entirely by mail, so the results won’t be known immediately. 

The race & the candidates:

Alaska’s 48-candidate special election is the first one held under Alaska’s new top-four primary system, which voters approved in 2020. Under the new system, candidates from all parties run on the same primary ballots. And the top four — regardless of party — will advance to a special general election on August 16 that will be held with ranked-choice voting. 

The winner of the special election will serve out the remainder of Young’s term until January 2023. 

Young, a fierce advocate for Alaska, spent his nearly five decades representing the state in Congress directing federal money back home and becoming a master of the congressional earmarks process, allowing him to allocate millions for infrastructure and other key projects in Alaska. 

The leading Republican candidates are former governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Nick Begich III, who is backed by the state Republican Party, state Sen. Josh Revak, who has the endorsement of Young’s widow, and former Interior Department assistant secretary Tara Sweeney. 

Young’s towering legacy in the state will be on the ballot, especially on the Republican side given that Begich, Sweeney, and Revak were all mentored by him during his 50-year career in Alaska politics, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Begich, a wealthy software developer and son of former Sen. Mark Begich, announced he would challenge Young before Young’s death, and has spent $650,000 of his own money on his campaign so far. 

Sweeney has been the largest beneficiary of outside spending in the race, with the T.A.R.A for Alaska Super PAC, heavily funded by Alaska Native business interests in the state, has spent more than $400,000 to support her candidacy. If elected, Sweeney would be the first Alaska Native person to serve in Congress. 

Al Gross, a physician and nonpartisan candidate who unsuccessfully ran for Senate against GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan in 2020, is the leader in fundraising and outside spending among non-Republican candidates.

The Democrats running for the seat include state lawmaker Mary Peltola, Anchorage-based Assemblyman Chris Constant, and Fairbanks-based Assemblyman Adam Wool.

And a progressive North Pole councilman named Santa Claus, who is running as an undeclared candidate, could have a leg up in name recognition. 

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