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Peltola and Murkowski win in Alaska, defeat Trump-backed candidates

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Former President Donald Trump’s candidates saw more midterm defeats in Alaska, when Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola won her reelection bid in Alaska’s sole congressional seat and incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski fended off a challenge from a fellow Republican.

Peltola won out against former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin to serve a full two-year term. Peltola defeated Palin previously in August in a special election to fill the remainder of the late Republican Rep. Don Young’s term.

And Murkowski, a Republican who voted to impeach Trump in his second impeachment trial for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, survived a challenge from Kelly Tshibaka, a former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner. Seeking to purge the GOP of any detractors, Trump endorsed Tshibaka and actively campaigned against Murkowski.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, a Democrat, is shown before a debate for Alaska's sole U.S. House seat on Oct. 26, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Peltola faces Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich and Libertarian Chris Bye in the November general election.

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, a Democrat, is shown before a debate for Alaska’s sole U.S. House seat on Oct. 26, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Peltola faces Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich and Libertarian Chris Bye in the November general election.

What took so long?

This year’s Nov. 8 elections were the first general elections testing Alaska’s new ranked choice voting system that voters approved in a ballot initiative back in 2020.

As a result, vote counting was a longer process in Alaska compared to other states. If no candidates earned more than 50% of the vote, votes would be reallocated from the candidate in last place.

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Peltola won by a wider margin in the general election than her special election back in August, defeating Palin by 54.9% to 45.1%. In the special election, she won 51.5% to 48.5%.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) walks to the Senate Republican Luncheon in the U.S. Capitol Building on August 02, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) walks to the Senate Republican Luncheon in the U.S. Capitol Building on August 02, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Murkowski’s race was more narrow. She defeated Tshibaka 53.7% to 46.3%.

“Thank you, Alaska. I am honored that Alaskans – of all regions, backgrounds and party affiliations – have once again granted me their confidence to continue working with them and on their behalf in the U.S. Senate,” Murkowski said in a statement after the race was called in her favor.

Peltola becomes first Alaska Native to serve a full term

Peltola makes history as the first Alaska Native to win a full term to the House and is also the first Democrat to take the state’s single seat since 1970.

“Alaskans voted for a better future, one where our fisheries are rehabilitated, our rights are preserved, and our families can afford to not only survive, but thrive,” Peltola tweeted after her victory. “I’m happy they did. Now it’s time to make that a reality.”

Peltola’s victory is also a blow to Palin, who attempted to stage a political comeback through the House race and Trump’s endorsement.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mary Peltola, Lisa Murkowski win reelection in Alaska

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