ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Democrat Mary Peltola won an unexpected victory in a special election for the state's sole U.S. House seat, defying Republican former Gov. Sarah Palin's bid for a political return.
Peltola defeated Palin, a Republican, by 51% to 49% in the race to succeed veteran Republican Rep. Don Young, who died earlier this year.
Peltola will be the first Democrat to hold the seat in almost a half-century, and the first Alaskan native to serve in Congress.
Palin announced her campaign for the available House seat this year, after being out of politics for 13 years. She initially rose to national and international prominence in 2008, when she was appointed as John McCain's vice-presidential running partner while still governor of Alaska.
During the 2008 campaign, Peltola was widely derided for making remarks like telling an interviewer that she had an understanding of Russian affairs since "you can literally see Russia from land here in Alaska."
Palin's campaign also signaled the Republican Party's larger rightward turn. In recent years, she has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, who called her a "great American" during the campaign.
Peltola spent four times as much as her Democratic opponent in a state Trump won by ten percentage points in 2020.
Earlier this year, the party appeared to be headed for a historic defeat in November's midterm elections.