Mary Peltola, first Alaska Native in Congress, wins bid to retain seat
Mary Peltola, a Democrat and the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress, has won her bid to retain the state’s sole seat in the House of Representatives.
Peltola made history when she won a special election this summer to replace the Republican Don Young after his death. She is also the first woman to represent Alaska in the House of Representatives since it became a state in 1959.
Peltola served out the remainder of Young’s term before facing a rematch with her previous challengers, Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich III and Libertarian Chris Bye, for a full congressional term.
On Wednesday, she once again prevailed in Alaska’s newly adopted ranked-choice voting system.
“Now, I’m a real congressman for all Alaska,” she said. Young often referred to himself that way. Peltola has described his legacy as one of bipartisanship and building support for Alaskan interests in Congress.
Campaigning as a moderate who is willing to work with candidates from both parties, Peltola ran on a “pro-fish, pro-family, pro-freedom” platform. After taking office, she hired Young’s former chief of staff – a lifelong Republican – to run her office.
“I want to work with everyone and anyone who is a reasonable person to find solutions to Alaska’s challenges,” she told the Guardian in August.
Having been sworn into Congress just two months ago, Peltola has maintained a “pro-fish, pro-family and pro-freedom” platform – vowing to address the climate emergency and other threats to Alaskan fisheries and protect access to abortions. Though she retains the support of environmental and Native groups across her home state, she has raised controversy among supporters by backing one of the largest proposed onshore oil and gas developments in the US, on Alaska’s North Slope.
She has said she seeks to balance the economic realities in Alaska – which is enmeshed with the oil and gas industry – with the need to address the climate crisis, including in Alaska’s vulnerable Arctic regions.