Sarah Palin’s return bid in front of voters : Live coverage : 2022 primaries : NPR

U.S. House candidate Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, waves to the crowd at a rally hosted by former President Donald Trump July 9 in Anchorage.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

U.S. House candidate Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, waves to the crowd at a rally hosted by former President Donald Trump July 9 in Anchorage.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Alaskans head to the polls on Tuesday to decide, among other things, whether to send former governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin to Congress.

The right-wing Republican is among three candidates in a special election for Alaska’s sole seat in the United States House. Palin takes on Republican Nick Begich III and Democrat Mary Peltola in the first test of Alaska’s new ranked voting system.

The winner will serve until the end of the year, completing GOP Rep. Don Young’s term. He died in March after serving 49 years.

Begich is a wealthy tech entrepreneur. He served as co-chair of Young’s 2020 campaign, but turned against the incumbent the following year and ran to Young’s right. He comes from a family of prominent Democrats and is named after his grandfather, the congressman who held the seat before Young.

With two conservatives splitting the vote, Peltola, a salmon advocate and former western Alaska state legislator, is likely to win the most first-preference votes. But the winner of the special election will not be known until the end of August, after all the ballots have arrived in the mail. That’s when the Alaska Division of Elections will establish the ranking. Third place will be eliminated and the ballots that went to the candidate will be reallocated based on the voters’ second choices.

Palin called it the “craziest system” that “makes no sense to most voters.”

A slim majority of Alaska voters adopted the new method in 2020. It combines a nonpartisan primary with an overall-ranked choice vote.

To win the special general, one of the Tories would have to get enough second-choice votes from the other to overcome Peltola’s likely lead in the first round of counting.

The two Republicans have been attacking each other for weeks while leaving Peltola alone.

Palin recently called the Democrat a “sweetheart” even as she attacks Begich for supporting Democrats in past races.

Begich called Palin a “resigner,” tapping into the disappointment felt by many Alaska Republicans when she resigned as governor in 2009. following her unsuccessful campaign as John McCain’s running mate in 2008.

“We picked her to do a job, and she didn’t bother to finish it. Because she wanted to get out there and get rich and famous,” says a Begich ad.

While they need second-choice votes, Begich and Palin have a more immediate concern.

“The No. 1 game has to be that you don’t come third,” said Art Hackney, a Republican consultant working for Begich. “Because if you come in third, you’re, you know, moot, and that becomes your second-choice votes which are the things that matter.”

To complicate this election day for voters, it is also the day of the ordinary primary.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Republican who supports abortion rights, is on the ballot for re-election with 18 challengers. Among them is lawyer and evangelical pastor Kelly Tshibaka. She, like Palin, has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

The Alaska Republican Party would like to punish Murkowski for voting to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, but the new system eliminates the partisan primary. The first four voters will go through the November ballot. Both Murkowski and Tshibaka are sure to make the cut, along with Democrat Pat Chesbro, a retired educator.

Also at stake this election season: who will serve the next full term in the U.S. House. Begich, Palin and Peltola are also all in this race.

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