The Alaska Supreme Court issued its opinion on Saturday morning, agreeing with the lower court that Alaska law does not allow Tara Sweeney to move onto the “final four” special general election ballot, just because one of the winners of the special primary election has dropped out.
The lawsuit had been brought by three surrogates for Sweeney — Alaska Native women who are shareholders in Alaska Native Corporations. The three had argued that Sweeney, as a fifth-place finisher, is entitled to be in the final four ranked-choice ballot on Aug. 16, because Ballot Measure 2 clearly intended that four people advance to the final ballot.
In many races in Alaska, there are not four people in the primary, and in some races only two people are running, thus negating the argument that the general election ballot always must have four people on it. But the justices did not make that argument or describe their reasoning for why they support the decision of the director of the Division of Elections. Gail Fenumiai had said that the statute governing elections says a candidate must drop out 64 days before the general election for the substitution provision to be applied.
This cements the congressional race into a three-way race between Sarah Palin, Nick Begich, and Mary Peltola.
The special hurry-up election is being held because Congressman Don Young died on March 18, leaving Alaska without representation in Congress. The winner of the special election will step into that role until January, when the next regular congressional representative is sworn in.