GOP Candidate Nick Begich Blames Sarah Palin For Democrats’ Special Election Win

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Republican Alaska congressional candidate Nick Begich blamed former Gov. Sarah Palin for Democrat Mary Peltola’s victory in the special election to replace the late Republican Rep. Don Young.

Alaska held the special election for its at-large district on Aug. 16, but the state took more than two weeks to tabulate its ranked-choice results, according to CNN. Palin, Begich, Peltola, and Independent Al Gross emerged from a more than 40 candidate primary, although Gross dropped out of the race and urged his supporters to vote for Peltola. Although Palin and Begich combined for more than 58% support in the first round, only 50% of Begich’s initial supporters ranked Palin as their second choice, while 29% ranked Peltola and 21% did not designate a second choice.

“Sarah Palin instructed her supporters not to rank candidates, and this had a spill over effect across the electorate. I on the other hand, ranked Sarah Palin second on my ballot and encouraged people to do the same. Either Sarah Palin doesn’t understand the ranked-choice voting system, or is more interested in herself getting elected than supporting other Republicans,” Begich told National Review.

In the wake of Peltola’s surprise victory, many Republicans blasted Alaska’s unique electoral system. Although other states, including California and Washington, use jungle primaries, Alaska is the only state to use the combination of a jungle primary and ranked-choice voting. (RELATED: Murkowski, Palin Headline Alaska Primaries, Advance To General Election Stage)

“Ranked-choice voting was sold as the way to make elections better reflect the will of the people. As Alaska — and America — now sees, the exact opposite is true. The people of Alaska do not want the destructive democrat agenda to rule our land and our lives, but that’s what resulted from someone’s experiment with this new crazy, convoluted, confusing ranked-choice voting system. It’s effectively disenfranchised 60% of Alaska voters,” Palin said in a statement following her loss.

Peltola is the first Democrat to represent Alaska in Congress since 2015, when Nick Begich’s uncle, Mark Begich, lost his Senate re-election bid to Dan Sullivan. Young held the state’s at-large House district from 1973 until his death in March. He was the Dean of the lower chamber.

Peltola, Begich, and Palin will face off again in November for a full term. They will be joined on the ballot by Libertarian Chris Bye.