Mary Peltola Will Make History as the First Alaska Native Member of Congress

Alaska hasn’t been represented by a Democrat in the House in five decades—not since the late Don Young defeated incumbent Democrat Nick Begich Sr. in 1972. That will change. 

Mary Peltola won out Wednesday, August 31, over Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and onetime 2008 vice presidential candidate, to take the state’s at-large congressional seat. Peltola’s win will make her the first Alaska Native member of Congress, as well as the first woman to represent the state in the House. It also flips a long-held GOP seat to the Democrats—for now, at least—as the party attempts to buck off expectations of a “red wave” this midterm cycle.

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Peltola’s victory over Palin is the latest instance of the Democrats overperforming in special elections this year; just last week Pat Ryan triumphed over Marc Molinaro in an Upstate New York race that the Republican was initially a slight favorite to win. Ryan framed his race as a referendum on the GOP’s antiabortion extremism. Mary Peltola made a similar case, tailoring a message of reproductive rights to voters in a state she described as having a “libertarian bent.”

“We are very much covetous of our freedoms and our privacy,” she told CNN.


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