Sarah Palin Crushes Santa Claus in Alaska's Special House Election
Former governor blows away crowded field in race for seat in Congress
Sarah Palin has stormed to victory in the first round of Alaska's special House election, blowing away a crowded field that included Santa Claus.
Palin is running for Alaska's only seat in the House of Represenatives after Rep. Don Young (R-AK) passed away in March.
The Republican former Alaska governor and one-time presidential candidate proved she is the clear favorite in the race.
With 54.4% of the vote in, Palin had 32,371 votes to just over 20,000 for second-place finisher Nick Begich.
Nick Begich is the brother of former Alaska Democrat Senator Mark Begich and the choice of the state’s GOP establishment.
The field included 48 candidates vying for Young's seat in Congress.
Palin, Begich, surgeon Al Gross, and one other candidate, likely Mary Pelota, will advance to the next round of the state’s first-ever ranked choice, non-partisan primary.
“Thank you Alaska!” Palin tweeted late Saturday after securing the first-place finish.
Thank you Alaska! ❤️🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/wlMSaOneqS— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) June 12, 2022
The new voting system, which followed a 2020 ballot measure, was supposed to debut in the regular primary in August, but the death of Young, who had held the state’s sole House seat since 1973, sped up the timetable.
Voters cast ballots for single candidates, then the top four finishers advance to the general election, in which voters pick four in order of preference.
If a candidate tops 50%, he or she wins.
If no one gets a majority, the last-place finisher drops out, and his or her second, third, and fourth choices are distributed among the candidates who advance.
The elimination process continues until there is a winner.
“I’m looking forward to the special general election so we can highlight our ideas for fixing this country by responsibly developing Alaska’s God-given natural resources, getting runaway government spending under control, protecting human life, protecting the right to keep and bear arms, and restoring respect for individual liberty and the Constitution,” Palin said.
One opponent who did not make the top four was Claus, a city councilman, avowed socialist, and supporter of Bernie Sanders from the city of North Pole.
Claus has a real platform.
He said he supports abortion rights, would back environmentally friendly policies that would protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and favors Medicare for All.
He said he spoke with Young, a leading marijuana advocate, about how he had used cannabis after battling cancer.
Before changing his name from Thomas Patrick O’Connor in 2005, Claus spent time in several US cities.
He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at New York University and worked for the New York Police Department in the 1970s.
He later lived in Colorado and Nevada, in skiing and resort communities where he often played Santa Claus during holiday events and became an advocate for at-risk children.
He said the name change came after he had grown out his beard and started playing Santa Claus for nonprofits at Lake Tahoe.
On a walk on a snowy road in 2005, he had prayed about how he could use his Santa Claus-like appearance to help children.
As he finished, he recalled, a white car drove by, and someone inside shouted: “Santa, I love you!”
“So,” he said, “I took it to heart.”
Palin, the former governor and the 2008 running mate of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, is considered among the front-runners.
Others include Nick Begich, a Republican whose grandfather held the seat before Young, and Al Gross, a surgeon who ran for Senate in 2020.
Begich, a member of the state’s most prominent Democratic family, is the state GOP’s choice.
His grandfather died in the same 1972 plane crash that killed then-House Majority Leader Hale Boggs.
His brother Mark was a U.S. senator from 2009 to 2015.
However, Palin has scored endorsements from a slew of Republicans, including President Donald Trump.