JUNEAU, Alaska — Sarah Palin on Friday shook up an already unpredictable race for Alaska’s lone US House seat, filing paperwork to join a field of at least 40 candidates seeking to fill the seat that had been held for 49 years by the late-US Rep Don Young.
Palin, the state’s former governor and the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, joined a crowded field that includes current and former state legislators and a North Pole city council member named Santa Claus. The deadline to file was 5 pm Friday.
“Public service is a calling, and I would be honored to represent the men and women of Alaska in Congress, just as Rep. Young did for 49 years,” Palin said in a statement posted on social media. “I realize that I have very big shoes to fill, and I plan to honor Rep. Young’s legacy by offering myself up in the name of service to the state he loved and fought for, because I share that passion for Alaska and the United States of America.”
WILL OTHERS FOLLOW? Alaska to use final-four primary, ranked-choice general election for Congress
Young, a Republican, had held Alaska’s House seat since 1973 and had been seeking reelection at the time of his death last month at age 88.
A special primary is set for June 11. The top four vote-getters will advance to an Aug. 16 special election in which ranked choice voting will be used, a process in line with a new elections system approved by voters in 2020.
The winner will serve the remainder of Young’s term, which expires in January. The state Division of Elections is targeting Sept. 2 to certify the special election.
Others who filed Friday include Republican state Sen. Josh Revak; Democratic state Rep. Adam Wool; independent Al Gross, an orthopedic surgeon who unsuccessfully ran for US Senate in 2020; and Andrew Halcro, a former Republican state lawmaker who is running as an independent. They join a field that includes Republican Nick Begich, who had positioned himself as a challenger to Young; Democrat Christopher Constant, an Anchorage Assembly member; and John Coghill, a Republican former state lawmaker.
Revak, who previously worked for Young’s office and was a statewide co-chair for Young’s reelection bid, said he felt a “strong calling and a duty” to step forward.
He said he was “heartbroken” by the filing timeline, coinciding with a period he said should be focused on remembering Young.
‘NEVER, EVER, EVER’:Lawmakers reject Russian official’s request to return Alaska
Young lied in state at the US Capitol on Tuesday. A public memorial was held in the Washington, DC-area on Wednesday and a public memorial is planned in Anchorage on Saturday.
The August special election will coincide with the regular primary. The regular primary and November general election will determine who represents Alaska in the House for a two-year term starting in January.
A man who years ago legally changed his name to Santa Claus and serves on the North Pole city council also filed with the state Division of Elections for the special primary. Claus, who said he has a “strong affinity” for Bernie Sanders, is running as an independent.
He said he is not soliciting or raising money. He said the new elections process “gives people like me an opportunity, without having to deal with parties, to throw our hat in the ring.”
“I do have name recognition,” he said with a laugh.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism