Alaska elects first Native Congressman

NOS Newstoday, 08:50

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has failed to make a comeback in American politics. The Republican lost to Democrat Mary Peltola in a scheduled election in the state of Alaska. She is the first Indigenous politician to serve in Congress for the state.

Palin became a celebrity out of nowhere in 2008 when John McCain as running mate chose in his election campaign against Barack Obama. They lost, but her right-wing populist style became a major current within the Republican Party. She is therefore generally seen as the prelude to the success of Donald Trump eight years later.

Palin herself retired as governor of her state of Alaska in 2009. She remained active as a TV personality, reality star and opinion maker, especially in right-wing media such as Fox News. Earlier this year, she announced her intention to make a political comeback in scheduled elections. They had to determine who serves the last months of Congressman Don Young, who died in March.

Palin received the support of Donald Trump, the man for whom she already expressed her preference in 2016 in her attempt. The endorsement was seen as an important favor as many of the Republican candidates the former president supports won their elections this year.


Mary Peltola

The aid was to no avail. Because in Alaska the four candidates with the most votes from a first round will compete against each other, Palin had to face two party members in the final battle next to a Democrat. She defeated both other Republicans, but Peltola was preferred by most voters.

Peltola, who turned 49 yesterday, is the first Indigenous candidate to be elected to Congress for Alaska, the US state with the largest Indigenous minority (20 percent). She campaigned for better environmental protection and spoke out for the right to abortion, a theme that has become central to American politics with a Supreme Court ruling this summer.

She became the first Democrat since 1972 to serve in the House of Representatives for the state. The result is a boost for her party, which braced itself for a defeat in the midterm elections in November due to inflation, high fuel prices and disappointing ratings for President Biden.

Those elections mean a second chance for Palin against Peltola: they will compete against each other again, for a full term in Congress of two years.

The article is in Dutch

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