Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Republican Nick Begich have advanced to the August special election for the state’s only U.S. House seat.
The two Republicans were among 48 candidates in last Saturday’s special primary for the seat, which was left vacant following the death in March of Republican Rep. Don Young. Young had held the seat for 49 years.
The top four vote-getters in the special primary advance to a special election, set for Aug. 16, in which ranked choice voting will be used. The winner of that race will serve the remainder of Young’s term, which ends in January.
State elections officials were releasing additional vote counts on Wednesday, the first day since the primary in which counts were conducted.
Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, held significant name recognition in a field that included current and former state legislators, Begich, independent Al Gross, and a North Pole city council member whose name is Santa Claus. Many of the candidates in the race were relative unknowns or political novices.
Palin touted endorsements from a number of national figures, including former President Donald Trump. Palin was an early supporter of Trump during his 2016 presidential bid, and he participated in a telerally for her the week before the election.
An August primary and November general election will decide who serves a two-year House term beginning in January. Palin and Begich also are running in that race.
Begich comes from a family of prominent Democrats, which includes uncles Mark Begich and Tom Begich, who have both held elected office.
Begich’s grandfather, Democratic U.S. Rep. Nick Begich, had the House seat before Young. In 1972, the elder Begich was running against Young when Begich’s plane disappeared on a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. Begich was nonetheless reelected.
He was later declared dead and Young in 1973 narrowly won a special election for the seat. Young held the seat until his death at age 88.
The younger Begich had ties to Young, too. He was a co-chair of Young’s reelection campaign in 2020.