Democrat Mary Peltola was the apparent winner of Alaska’s special U.S. House race and is set to become the first Alaska Native in Congress, after votes were tabulated Wednesday in the state’s first ranked choice election.
Peltola led Republican former Gov. Sarah Palin after ballots were tallied and votes for third-place GOP candidate Nick Begich III were redistributed to his supporters’ second choices. Peltola, a Yup’ik former state lawmaker who calls Bethel home, is now slated to be the first woman to hold Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat.
If results are confirmed as expected by the state review board later this week, she will succeed U.S. Rep. Don Young, the Republican who held the office for nearly five decades — since before Peltola was born. The special election was triggered by Young’s death in March.
“I feel like I need to catch my breath for a minute,” Peltola said in the moment after results were announced in a live video by state election officials in Juneau. Peltola was surrounded by family and campaign staff at an Anchorage office.
“What’s most important is that I’m an Alaskan being sent to represent all Alaskans. Yes, being Alaska Native is part of my ethnicity, but I’m much more than my ethnicity,” she said.
It is an outcome largely seen as an upset. Peltola would be the first Democrat to join Alaska’s three-person congressional delegation since U.S. Sen. Mark Begich lost reelection in 2014. And she defeated two Republicans to do so. Combined, Palin and Nick Begich III, nephew of Mark Begich and grandson of former U.S. Rep. Nick Begich, commanded nearly 60% of first-place votes.
Begich was the first candidate eliminated, after no other candidate exceeded the 50% threshold needed to win under Alaska’s ranked choice voting system. The second-place votes of Begich’s supporters were then tallied in what is called an instant runoff. Only half of Begich’s voters ranked Palin second — not enough for her to overtake Peltola.
Peltola had 39.7% of the first-place votes to Palin’s 30.9%. In the instant runoff, Peltola ended up with 91,206 votes to Palin’s 85,987, or 51.47% to 48.53%. A small number of additional ballots have not yet been counted by election officials, likely not enough to change results.
Peltola ran a largely positive campaign as Begich and Palin traded barbs in the final weeks before the Aug. 16 special election, emerging as the victor with a platform that highlighted her position as the only candidate on the ballot who supports abortion access — an issue that has become important to voters with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision removing federal protections for access to the procedure (the procedure remains protected under the Alaska Constitution).
Peltola has also said she is “pro-fish” and emphasized her plans to protect subsistence fisheries in Alaska as salmon stocks decline in the region where she has fished throughout her life.
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
The Justice Department sought a search warrant for former President Donald J. Trump’s residence in Florida after obtaining evidence that highly classified documents were likely concealed and that Mr. Trump’s representatives had falsely claimed all sensitive material had been returned, according to a court filing by the department on Tuesday.
The filing came in response to Mr. Trump’s request for an independent review of materials seized from his home, Mar-a-Lago. But it went far beyond that, painting the clearest picture yet of the department’s efforts to retrieve the documents before taking the extraordinary step of searching a former president’s private property on Aug. 8.
Among the new disclosures in the 36-page filing were that the search yielded three classified documents in desks inside Mr. Trump’s office, with more than 100 documents in 13 boxes or containers with classification markings in the residence, including some at the most restrictive levels.
That was twice the number of classified documents the former president’s lawyers turned over voluntarily while swearing an oath that they had returned all the material demanded by the government.
The investigation into Mr. Trump’s retention of government documents began as a relatively straightforward attempt to recover materials that officials with the National Archives had spent much of 2021 trying to retrieve. The filing on Tuesday made clear that prosecutors are now unmistakably focused on the possibility that Mr. Trump and those around him took criminal steps to obstruct their investigation.
Investigators developed evidence that “government records were likely concealed and removed” from the storage room at Mar-a-Lago after the Justice Department sent Mr. Trump’s office a subpoena for any remaining documents with classified markings. That led prosecutors to conclude that “efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation,” the government filing said.
The filing included one striking visual aid — a photograph of at least five yellow folders recovered from Mr. Trump’s resort and residence marked “Top Secret” and another red one labeled “Secret.”
But department officials are not expected to file charges imminently, if they ever do. And the specific contents of the materials the government recovered in the search remain unclear — as does what risk to national security Mr. Trump’s decision to retain the materials posed.
While the filing provided important new information about the timeline of the investigation, much of the information was mentioned, in less detail, in the affidavit used to obtain the warrant, which a federal magistrate judge unsealed last week.
Congressional Republicans and candidates are running for the hills away from the carnage of the end of Roe, suddenly removing their complete and total support for reducing women to second-class citizens whose reproductive systems belong to the state, and pretending they've never heard of Dobbs, abortion, or the Supreme Court.
Yesli Vega, a Republican running for the U.S. House in a competitive Virginia district, no longer mentions her connection to former president Donald Trump in the bio section at the top of her Twitter page.
Colorado state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, also running in a battleground House race, has stopped promoting language defending “The Sanctity of Life” on her campaign website. Now, there is no mention of abortion at all, a review of the website showed.
And the campaign of Blake Masters, Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Arizona, has removed from his campaign website references to strict antiabortion positions he once championed, along with references to false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
At least nine Republican congressional candidates have scrubbed or amended references to Trump or abortion from their online profiles in recent months, distancing themselves from divisive subjects that some GOP strategists say are two of the biggest liabilities for the party ahead of the post-Labor Day sprint to Election Day.
“The Dobbs decision has clearly energized Democratic voters to the point where they have closed the enthusiasm gap with Republicans,” said Whit Ayres, a longtime GOP pollster, referencing the Supreme Court ruling that ended the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. Asked whether it hurts the GOP to have Trump back in the news, Ayres replied, “The best case for Republican candidates in the midterms is making the upcoming election a referendum on the Biden administration.”
He added: “Anything that distracts from that focus weakens the Republican position.”
Tracking back to the political middle after a primary is common practice long used by candidates of both parties. But the attempts by Republicans in competitive contests to pivot away from abortion and Trump have emboldened Democrats to mount an aggressive offense on those issues, which they see as key to their efforts to outperform once dim expectations in congressional races.
A Pew Research Center survey earlier this summer found 57 percent of Americans disapproved of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, while a Washington Post-Schar School poll found 65 percent saying the court’s decision represents a major loss of rights for women in America. Some states do not allow abortion when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest; a Washington Post-ABC News poll this spring found 79 percent of Americans said abortion should be legal in such cases, a consistent finding in polls for more than three decades.
Both President Biden and Trump, who has received renewed attention recently after the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago estate, are unpopular, making them targets for the opposing party in the midterms. Trump’s favorability rating was just 38 percent and Biden’s was just 43 percent, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.
But during the primaries, Trump was a big draw, as he remains popular among many Republicans. Many Republicans ran as candidates aligned with him, a dynamic that has caused some discomfort as the pivot to the general election started.
Vega, who is trying to unseat Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) in one of the key seats Republicans hope to flip to win back control of the House, used to say in her Twitter bio that she was a “Pres. Trump appointee,” a reference to her appointment in December 2020 to the President’s Advisory Commission on Hispanic Prosperity. Several weeks ago, after Vega secured the GOP nomination, it disappeared.
Asked about the change, Vega’s campaign consultant Sean Brown ignored the question and responded with an apparent reference to Biden’s recent announcement that he would cancel a portion of student loan debt held by many Americans. “Safe to say the story of Democrat candidates refusing to say whether they support Biden’s blatantly political tuition giveaway next?” Brown wrote.