Democrat Peltola re-elected to U.S. House in Alaska
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Representative Mary Peltola of Alaska, a Democrat first elected in August, was reelected to a full two-year term on Wednesday, beating two Republicans, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and businessman Nick Begich.
Peltola came out on top after Alaska finished tabulating all ballots in a publicly broadcast session using its new “ranked choice” system, which allows voters to list candidates in order of preference.
In each round of counting, the candidate with the lowest share of votes is eliminated and the ballots which ranked them first are then redistributed. The candidate with a majority of votes after all ballots have been counted wins.
Peltola would have won even under the old system, as she had a significant plurality against Palin and Begich from the first count.
Palin, a former governor, is a polarizing figure within the party, as her vice presidential run in 2008 was a precursor to the U.S. Tea Party era of politics and helped pave the way for Donald Trump to win the White House.
After Peltola’s win in a special election in August against the same two candidates, both Palin and Begich pressed each other to drop out and give the remaining Republican a better chance at beating the Democrat.
But each refused, insisting their strain of conservatism would be more popular with Alaskan voters. The state has one of the highest proportions of independent voters in the country.
Peltola, the first Alaska Native elected to Congress, was endorsed by the state’s longtime U.S. senator, Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Republican, as well as the staff of Republican former U.S. Representative Don Young, Peltola’s predecessor.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton and Gram Slattery in Washington; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman)