Alaska GOP House candidate Sarah Palin called on fellow Republican Nick Begich to drop his bid for the seat, but Begich refused, setting up a rematch between the Republicans and Democratic Rep-elect Mary Peltola in November.
“It is time for the GOP to unite, we need to unite behind my candidacy and starting today with Nick Begich withdrawing from this race,” Palin said at a press conference on Monday, which was also the deadline for candidate to withdraw.
“Only a Democrat sympathizer would selfishly stay in this race, after getting licked three times in a row by his GOP opponent, only to enable a Democrat to hold the Alaskan people’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives,” she added.
But, Begich fired back in a statement on Monday saying, “I will continue traveling the state, making the case that this election is about a choice between Mary Peltola and Nick Begich. We are confident that we are on a positive trajectory to win in November,” according to the Associated Press.
Palin and Begich lost to Democrat Mary Peltola in the special U.S. House election last week to fill the remainder of late GOP Congressman Don Young’s term. Peltola was announced as the winner after a process of elimination in Alaska’s new ranked-choice voting system which allows voters to list candidates in order of preference.
After the first round of votes are counted, if no candidate received more than 50% the candidate who received the least amount of votes is eliminated and their voters’ second choice apportioned between the candidates that are left. The process continues until a candidate reaches 50 percent.
Since Peltola did not win a majority in the first balloting, the third-place finisher, Begich, was eliminated and his voters’ second choices were shared between Palin and Peltola.
Of the Begich voters who ranked a second candidate, 36% chose Peltola and about 64% chose Palin.
In the final balloting, Peltola won with 51.47% support after Begich’s votes were redistributed to his voters’ second choice candidate.
“Ranked choice voting showed that Palin simply doesn’t have enough support from Alaskans to win an election and her performance in the Special was embarrassing as a former Governor and Vice Presidential candidate,” Begich said on Monday.
All three candidates, Peltola, Begich and Palin, are back on the ballot again this November for a full term in Congress. They will be joined by Libertarian Chris Bye, after he finished fourth in the primary.