OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has jumped out to a commanding lead in the early results of the Alaska primary for the state’s only House representative.
There are 48 candidates campaigning for the job that was previously held for 49 years by the late Rep. Don Young, Fox News reported.
The early results showed Palin, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, with 29.8% of the votes counted so far; Republican Nick Begich had 19.3%; independent Al Gross had 12.5%; Democrat Mary Peltola with 7.5%; and Republican Tara Sweeney had 5.3%.
A candidate whose name is Santa Claus, a self-described “independent, progressive, democratic socialist,” had 4.5%.
The initial results released by the state Division of Elections included 108,729 votes. It was not immediately clear how many ballots were outstanding. The division reported late Saturday that it had received about 139,000 ballots so far. Ballots had to be postmarked by Saturday.
The Associated Press has not called any winners in the special primary.
The way that it works is that the top four vote getters, regardless of party, will face each other in a special election in August using ranked choice voting. The winner will then serve the remainder of Rep. Young’s term which ends in January.
The election is the first that eliminates party primaries in the state and uses ranked choice voting. It has also been conducted mainly by mail.
Saturday was the first of the ballot counting, but more counts are planned for Wednesday and Friday, and a final count on June 21. They plan to have the election certified by June 25.
Palin appeared to celebrate on Sunday morning, already looking toward the special election as she tweeted “Thank you Alaska!” with a meme stating her platform.
Thank you Alaska! ❤️🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/wlMSaOneqS
— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) June 12, 2022
In April former President Donald Trump endorsed Palin, a long-time ally.
“Wonderful patriot Sarah Palin of Alaska just announced that she is running for Congress, and that means there will be a true America First fighter on the ballot to replace the late and legendary Congressman Don Young,” Trump noted in a statement put out by his Save America PAC.
“Sarah shocked many when she endorsed me very early in 2016, and we won big,” Trump continued. “Now, it’s my turn!
“Sarah has been a champion for Alaska values, Alaska energy, Alaska jobs, and the great people of Alaska. She was one of the most popular governors because she stood up to corruption in both State Government and the Fake News Media,” Trump added. “Sarah lifted the [late Sen. John] McCain presidential campaign out of the dumps despite the fact that she had to endure some very evil, stupid, and jealous people within the campaign itself.
“They were out to destroy her, but she didn’t let that happen,” the former president continued. “Sarah Palin is tough and smart and will never back down, and I am proud to give her my Complete and Total Endorsement, and encourage all Republicans to unite behind this wonderful person and her campaign to put America First.”
President Donald J. Trump announces his endorsement of Sarah Palin pic.twitter.com/9y0a39htCj
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) April 4, 2022
A week prior, Palin took to Facebook to announce that she would run for the seat held by Young, 88, since 1973.
“Today I’m announcing my candidacy for the U.S. House seat representing Alaska. Public service is a calling, and I would be honored to represent the men and women of Alaska in Congress, just as Rep. Young did for 49 years,” Palin wrote. “I realize that I have very big shoes to fill, and I plan to honor Rep. Young’s legacy by offering myself up in the name of service to the state he loved and fought for because I share that passion for Alaska and the United States of America.”
I first entered politics 30 years ago, when I was elected to city council in Wasilla. I still live in Wasilla; my family is here; my son goes to school here. My heart will always be in Alaska, even when I’m representing this great state in Washington, D.C.
America is at a tipping point. As I’ve watched the far left destroy the country, I knew I had to step up and join the fight. The people of the great State of Alaska, like others all over the country, are struggling with out-of-control inflation, empty shelves, and gas prices that are among the highest in the world. We need energy security for this country, and Alaska can help provide that – but only if the federal government gets out of the way and lets the free market do what it does best.
At this critical time in our nation’s history, we need leaders who will combat the left’s socialist, big-government, America-last agenda. This country was built by heroes, and the radical left dishonors their legacies by opening our borders to illegal immigrants, mortgaging our children’s future, and selling out our nation’s interests to the highest bidder.
I’m in this race to win it and join the fight for freedom alongside other patriots willing to sacrifice all to save our country.