Murkowski advances in Alaska Senate race, Palin in House

JUNE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Kelly Tshibaka, her Republican rival who was backed by former President Donald Trump, advanced from Tuesday’s primary, while Republican Sarah Palin, who is seeking to return to an elected position after more than a decade, was among the candidates who advanced to the November general election in the race for the only seat in the Alaska House of Representatives.

Murkowski had expressed confidence that he would advance, telling reporters earlier in the day that “what matters is winning in November.” Tshibaka called the results “the first step in breaking the Murkowski monarchy’s hold on Alaska.”

A Murkowski has held the Senate seat since 1981; Before Lisa Murkowski, who has been in the Senate since late 2002, it was her father, Frank Murkowski.

Under a voter-approved election process first used in Alaska’s election this year, party primaries have been scrapped and ranked voting is being used in the general election. The top four vote winners in a primary race, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the general election.

The other two spots in the Senate race were too early to announce.

In the House primaries, Democrat Mary Peltola, Palin and Republican Nick Begich advanced to the November elections. It was too early to call fourth place. The winner of the November race will be elected for a two-year term.

Peltola, Begich and Palin were also running in a special election to serve the rest of the late representative. Don Young’s term, which ends early next year. Young died in March. The special election was the first opportunity for voters to vote ranked in a statewide contest. The winner of the special election may not be known until at least August 31.

The special election was on one side of the ballot; the other side contained primary races for US Senate, US House, governor and lieutenant governor, and legislative seats.

Palin, in a statement Tuesday night, called this “the first test case of the crazy, convoluted and undesirable ranked-choice voting system.”

Begich, a businessman from a family of prominent Democrats, spoke out harshly against Palin during the campaign, seeking to portray her as a fame-chaser who gives up; Palin resigned during her tenure as governor in 2009.

A narrator in one of Palin’s ads refers to Begich as “Negative Nick” and says that Palin wants to serve in Congress “to carry the torch for Don Young.”

Peltola, a former lawmaker who recently served on a commission aimed at rebuilding salmon resources in the Kuskokwim River, has cast herself as an “Alaskan regular” and a consensus builder.

In the Alaska gubernatorial race, Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy advanced, as did former Governor Bill Walker, an independent and Democrat Les Gara. He was too early to call fourth.

Dunleavy and his running mate, Nancy Dahlstrom, said in a statement that this “is just the beginning of the race. We’ll be digging into all the numbers as they come in over the next few days to find out where we need to beef up our campaign, and we look forward to reaching all Alaskans and winning your vote between now and November.”

Walker runs with Heidi Drygas and Gara with Jessica Cook.

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