Sarah Palin fails to win Congress seat as Alaskan native makes history
Firebrand Republican Sarah Palin has failed in her bid to be elected to Congress, 14 years after she was the vice presidential nominee.
Democrat Mary Peltola won the special election to fill Alaska‘s only seat in the House of Representatives, making her the first Alaskan Native to serve in the House and the first woman elected to the state’s House seat.
The Alaska House seat had been held for 49 years by Republican Don Young before he died in March.
Ms Palin, the state’s former Republican governor, lost by 48.53% of the vote to 51.47%.
While she was unsuccessful in her vice presidential run with John McCain in 2008 – an election won by Barack Obama, with Joe Biden as vice president – she became notorious for her straight-talking, anti-Washington elite approach, which connected with many on the Republican right.
But she was attacked by the media after a series of interviews and debates in which commentators accused her of not fully grasping the necessary detail of the issues she was asked about.
The Tea Party movement, in which she was subsequently heavily involved, is sometimes seen as the precursor to the Trumpism that is now firmly embedded as a wing of the Republican party.
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The significance of Ms Palin’s loss is still to be analysed as Donald Trump – who is expected to run again for president in 2024 – was among those who endorsed her.
Read more: If you thought the first coming of Donald Trump was crazy enough – wait for the sequel
Ms Peltola’s victory is a marked success for Democrats, in a state that has backed a Republican presidential candidate in every election since 1968.
The Democrat said she was honoured and humbled by the support she’s received.
Almost 20% of the population in Alaska is indigenous, the highest proportion in the United States.
The election was the first one run under the state’s new ‘ranked choice’ system, with voters listing candidates in order of preference on the ballot.
A candidate must clear 50% of the vote to be declared the winner.
The winner of the special election will serve out Mr Young’s term, which was due to finish at the end of this year.
Ms Palin is due to make a fresh attempt on 8 November to fill the seat for the next two years, when she will again take on Ms Peltola and also Republican Nick Begich III.