Lisa Murkowski and Mary Peltola set to win races in Alaska, beating Trump-backed opponents

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Democratic Representative Mary Peltola on Wednesday became the first Alaska Native to win a full term in Congress, securing re-election with Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who both defeated challengers endorsed by former President Donald Trump after state officials have completed a final ballot. account.

Peltola, who made history with her victory in the August special election, and Murkowski, a senator for two decades, were in the lead after the vote count. But the victories for centrist lawmakers were not won until Wednesday, when the Alaska Division of Elections redistributed the votes under the state’s new ranked voting system.

“I am honored that Alaskans — of all regions, backgrounds, and partisan affiliations — have once again placed their trust in me to continue to work with them and on their behalf in the U.S. Senate,” Murkowski said in a statement Wednesday. evening. to continue the important work ahead of us.

In the gubernatorial race, Republican Mike Dunleavy won reelection with more than 50% of the vote, avoiding the ranked choice, according to the Associated Press.

Peltola and Murkowski had crossed party lines in support ahead of the election, forming an alliance rooted in the similar space they occupy on the political spectrum. Their victories cap an election season in which voters across the country have tended to show a preference for incumbents in battleground races.

The result marked another blow for Trump in this year’s midterm elections. Many candidates affiliated with the former president and his polarizing positions have fallen to defeat in battlefield contests. That list includes former Republican Governor Sarah Palin, who challenged Peltola with Trump’s backing; and Republican Kelly Tshibaka, a former state and federal official who ran against Murkowski with the former president’s backing.

After the last round of ranking voting, Murkowski obtained 53.69% of the votes against 46.31% for Tshibaka. In the home race, Peltola won 55% of the vote to Palin’s 45%.

Peltola ran a locally targeted campaign with traditional and unconventional Democratic deckboards – she touted her support for abortion rights and “pro-fish” views, as well as her support for new oil projects in Alaska and at the large collection of weapons that she and her family maintain.

Peltola’s victory secures his first full two-year term on Capitol Hill and follows his victory in August to temporarily fill his state’s only seat in the US House – a seat that was vacated after the sudden death of longtime Republican Representative Don Young. Peltola also defeated Palin in that race, becoming the first Alaska Native congressman and the first woman from her state to hold the seat.

Peltola is the first Democrat elected to Congress in Alaska since 2008, when Mark Begich ousted Republican Senator Ted Stevens just months after Stevens was indicted for allegedly making false statements related to his financial disclosures.

Murkowski, meanwhile, will soon begin her fourth six-year term in the Senate, following her 2002 nomination to the House by her father, then newly elected Governor Frank Murkowski. His campaign highlighted his work to bring infrastructure funds to Alaska, his support for the state’s oil and fishing industries, and his close relationship with Alaska Native constituencies.

Trump had long vowed to oust the senator, predicting in 2018 that she would “never recover” politically for voting against one of his Supreme Court nominees, Brett M. Kavanaugh. Tshibaka joined Trump at a rally held at an Anchorage arena in July.

Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, also appeared with Trump in July. She lost the special and general elections after splitting the Conservative vote with Nick Begich III, a Republican from a prominent Democratic family in Alaska. (Nick Begich III is Mark Begich’s nephew.)

Jim Lottsfeldt, a centrist political consultant who has worked with pro-Murkowski and pro-Peltola super PACs, said he wasn’t sure Trump’s endorsements helped Palin and Tshibaka much. Alaska, he said, is small enough that many people who follow politics judge candidates on their personal interactions.

“We all have these opinions that we gained by looking someone in the eye,” Lottsfeldt said in a phone interview Tuesday. “Donald Trump won’t tell me anything about Sarah Palin that I don’t already know.”

This year’s elections were the first in Alaska under the state’s new voting framework, which residents narrowly approved in a 2020 citizens’ initiative partially funded and run by Murkowski allies. The system overhauled primary elections by eliminating partisan races and moving the top four voters through a single open ballot to the general election.

In general elections, voters are allowed to rank candidates according to their preferences. If no candidate receives a majority of the first-choice votes, the candidate with the lowest vote total is eliminated and the votes of that candidate’s supporters are reallocated to their next choices. The process repeats until two contestants remain and a winner can be declared.

A number of Alaskan conservatives, led by Palin, attacked the new system as convoluted and untrustworthy, although there was no evidence of technical issues or foul play. At an event last week, the former governor was the first person to sign a new petition to get rid of the system.

The repeal campaign could face an uphill battle. One avenue for criticism is a repeal by the Alaska Legislature – where a number of seats will now be filled by candidates who have won races this year at least in part because of the new voting process.

Residents could also repeal the system through a citizens’ initiative. But polls released by supporters after the August primary election showed more than 60% of Alaskans approved of him.

Even if the new electoral system remains intact, Peltola’s allies expect she will face serious challenges from Republicans when her term expires in two years.

One momentum that has spurred Peltola this year has been a National Democratic Network that has helped her raise more than $5.5 million through mid-October, more than triple the $1.7 million and 1 $.6 million that Palin and Begich respectively raised in campaign contributions.




Washington

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