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Palin calls on Begich to drop out of the race after Democrat wins special election

Mary Peltola wins Alaska special election
Local Matters: Mary Peltola wins Alaska special election 06:45

After a Democrat won the special election last week to finish out for Alaska's at-large congressional seat, former Gov. Sarah Palin called on Monday on fellow Republican Nick Begich to withdraw from November's congressional race so that the GOP can unite behind a single candidate. 

Palin and Begich lost to Democrat Mary Peltola in the special U.S. House election last week to fill the remainder of Congressman Don Young's term, who died in March. Peltola was announced as the winner of the special election after a process of elimination in Alaska's new ranked-choice voting system catapulted her above the 50% threshold needed to secure a victory. 

All three candidates are on the ballot again in Nov. for a full two-year term. Alaska's primary system allows the top four vote-getters to be on the ballot, so independent Chris Bye will also be on the Nov. ballot.  

Palin said on Monday that "splitting the Republican vote" is the only reason a Democrat from Alaska is headed to Congress for the first time in nearly 50 years. 

Election 2022 House Alaska
Alaska Republican U.S. House candidate Sarah Palin holds a news conference in Wasilla, Alaska, on Monday, Sept. 5, 2022, in which she called on fellow Republican Nick Begich to drop out of the race. Mark Thiessen / AP

"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 in Wasilla. She said her opponent "needs to swallow a little pride" and hit the campaign trail in her support. 

Begich responded Monday saying he'll travel across Alaska and tell voters this election is a choice between him and Peltola. 

"We are confident that we are on a positive trajectory to win in November," Begich said in a statement.

Monday was the deadline for candidates to drop out of November's general election. 

An initial tally of the Aug. 16 special election had Peltola leading the field with nearly 40% of the vote. Palin was in second with 30.9% while Republican businessman Nick Begich came in third with 26.2%.

On Aug. 31, the Alaska Division of Elections tabulated the final results during a public livestream. Peltoa won with 51.47% support after Begich's votes were redistributed to his voters' second choice candidate. 

According to election officials in Alaska, 15,445 of Begich's voters listed Peltola as their second choice while 27,042 put down Palin as their second option. Despite those votes, the final tally showed Peltola with 91,206 votes to Palin's 85,987 votes. 

Begich said "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."

This is Palin's first campaign since she stepped down as Alaska's governor in 2009. She's endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who held a rally in Alaska to support her in July.

Palin and Begich have been attacking each other for months. With both staying in the race of November's election, the attacks are likely to increase. 

On Monday, Palin called Begich a "loser" and said "it would make no sense" for her to drop out of the race because she finished ahead of him in the special election. She said if Begich stays in the race "you'll be able to see us not just talking the talk but walking the walk that we've not yet begun the fight."

Aaron Navarro contributed to this report. 

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