Can Tara Sweeney make the ballot? Group files lawsuit asking court to decide that she can


Updated: The lawsuit referenced in this story has been filed by the Birch Horton Bittner and Cherot law firm. The plaintiffs are Sunny Guerin, of Anchorage, who is a Doyon shareholder; Vera Lincoln of Fairbanks, an Arctic Slope Regional Corp. shareholder; and Elizabeth Asisaun Toovak, ASRC shareholder living in Utqiagvik. The case has been assigned a number: 3AN-22-06795CI, and the first hearing to schedule a hearing has been set for 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 23 in Anchorage Superior Court, Judge William Morse presiding.

Although congressional candidate Tara Sweeney received less than 6% of the votes cast in the recent congressional special election primary election, there is a chance that the courts will place her on the “final four” ballot in August.

A group of rural Alaskans associated with Sweeney filed lawsuit Thursday against the Division of Elections, whose director has ruled that Alaska Statute provides no path for a fifth-place finisher to move up to the final four ballot, even if one of the four drop out.

The Alaska election laws were muddied up by Ballot Measure 2 authors, and the authors of the ballot measure appear to be behind the lawsuit, which itself has the possibility of further mucking up Alaska elections.

Al Gross suddenly dropped out of the race earlier this week, claiming he had no path to win as a candidate without a party. He was the third-place finisher, behind Sarah Palin and Nick Begich. The fourth place finisher was Mary Peltola of Bethel.

Sweeney was fifth with 5.92% of the vote. The lawsuit will assert that she should be moved into the final four, since there is a vacant spot.

The Alaska Republican Party has endorsed Nick Begich and the Alaska Democratic Party has endorsed Mary Peltola. Both Palin and Sweeney, both Republicans, have not gone through the Republican Party’s vetting process.

Sweeney issued a statement saying that Begich, the only male in the top four, was trying to block women from being on the ballot and “his desire to limit the choices for women everywhere, including Alaska.” She said she is not part of the lawsuit but believes she should be on the ballot. Gross has endorsed both her and Peltola.

Begich’s campaign had filed a request with the Division to clarify the law pertaining to moving people onto the ballot who had not won a spot.

The Division of Elections will have to consider whether it will still be able to make the Aug. 16 general election schedule. The decision would be a hasty one from the Superior and then the Alaska Supreme Court, presumably in time for the June 25 certification of the election. This likely means a weekend decision from the Alaska Supreme Court.

This is a rapidly developing story.

Sweeney’s statement is here:

After the lawsuit was filed, the Sweeney campaign issued another statement:

“Like many Alaskans, including those that filed this challenge, I agree that under the law, I should be able to advance into the final four for this special primary election. The law is clear that Alaskans deserve a choice amongst four candidates, no less.

“I’m confident the intent of the law will prevail and Alaskans will have at least four candidates from which to choose during the general election.

“It is concerning to me that Nick Begich sought immediate legal action to block the advancement of my candidacy to limit the choices for Alaskans.He is clearly threatened by my candidacy and for good reason – I’m focused on empowerment, bringing people together and doing what is right for Alaska and Nick Begich is only concerned about his political ambitions.

“If I advance to the final four, I can promise you I will bring my fighting Alaska spirit to center stage. This election is critical and we need an effective leader fighting for Alaska in Congress, and I know I’ve got what it takes.”


  1. If the way special elections procedures are written allows for her to move up, then by all means move her up. If the way it is written is doesn’t allow for a move up, then this is just another move by special interests meddling in elections. If the procedure says no, then by the next special election lobby for a change.

  2. The Division of Elections is the rule-making authority and they set the standard for qualification months ago. Sweeney will look like
    a sore loser and sourpuss if a suit is filed. And the Rural residents will look like uneducated voters not able to follow simple eligibility rules.

    • Naomi, Ms. Sweeney already looks like a sore loser, but I respect her decision to let surrogates get their hands dirty, leaving hers clean. I am disappointed by her mud-slinging attempt to disparage her opponent, but that is what politicians do, I suppose. I had hoped for better from her.

      • @CEF,
        In 2010 Lisa Murkowski didx exactly what you just said. She let others get their hands dirty and campaign for her write-in candidacy. Democrats, special money interests, and Bush votes. Joe Miller kicked Lisa’s ass in the primary and Lisa should have done the noble thing and bowed out.
        There is no honor with these politicians who skirt the rules and then spit at the voting public. Sweeney would be no different than Lisa Murkowski if she stays in.

    • You got that wrong Naomi. The “rule-making authority” is the marginally-intelligent voters who approved the initiative creating our current convoluted, incomprehensible, election process. The Division of Elections is merely responsible for implementation.
      However, we can all agree Sweeney should be on the ballot for the simple fact she has claimed victim status. She alleged Begich objected to allowing her on because she is a woman. Its just what we need representing our state: another deep-stater standing on victim ideology to help put all the evil white males in their place.

  3. Don’t fall for this Alaska voters.

    Here is a patently UNTRUE statement that comes from Tara Sweeney: “Begich [is] trying to block women from being on the ballot and his desire [is] to limit the choices for women everywhere, including Alaska.”

    • Talk about a racist remark coming from Sweeney. What does she want Begich to do? Claim he’s transgender? That’s even the playing field!!

  4. Just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bash another candidate,eh? Must be part of being one with nature.

  5. No way! A loser’s suit is racism, pure and simple. The ranked choice method was designed by Democrats to give Democrats an edge. But the majority of votes went to Palin and Begich, both Republicans. The lead Democrat QUIT. End of story. The rules cannot be changed now to accommodate a minority. Put that in your marijuana joint and smoke it, Scott Kendall. Your own BS is catching up with you.

    • Democrats love to say that Sarah Palin is a “quitter.” This time, it was Al Gross the “quitter.”
      Tara Sweeney took some cheap shots at Nick Begich III, suggesting he blocked the chances for a woman to move up. Sweeney is all about “her people” getting representation. How can she possibly represent non-Natives when her political ads are about her people and Native
      Corporations. Not thanks, Tara. Your brand of racism is exactly what Alaska doesn’t need.

  6. The comment about limiting the choices of women demonstrates the incredible distortion in today’s politics. The shark has truly been jumped.

  7. This would not have come up if we just stayed with the old system, rank choice voting is bull shot, we need a constutional convention, our Legislature s are on the take from special intrusts, I am tired of being Ruled not represented.

  8. How many accommodations do you have to give minorities in order NOT to be tagged as a racist?
    Never enough.

  9. Anyone see a problem with this statement? “AS 15.25.100 (a) as written, clearly states that the director of the Division of Elections “shall place the names of the four candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for an office.” As the candidate with the fifth highest votes, I strongly believe that I should fill the vacancy left by Al Gross.”
    Hmmm. 1=yes, 2=yes, 3=yes, 4=yes, 5=no. Maybe 2 plus 2 really DOES equal 5 now! Oh, and 64 or MORE now equals 64 or LESS, so more or less, less is more. Thank goodness there is no such thing as reality… oh, wait…

  10. It doesn’t matter if you are supporting Nick Begich or not but one statement made by Ms. Sweeney really takes the cake: “…Begich, the only male in the top four, was trying to block women from being on the ballot and “his desire to limit the choices for women everywhere, including Alaska.” Did Nick all of a sudden get the power to influence the Division of Elections or change the rules by himself? That alone was one of the craziest sore loser statements I’ve ever heard.

  11. So, Sweeney is not yet on the ballot but already slinging mud and pointing the finger at Begich. “He’s the only male.” He’s blocking women.” “He’s limiting choices for women.” This tells me there’s enough crazy there to scotch any thought, no matter how minuscule, of voting for her based on what she says, not on what her gender is.

  12. Throwing down the gender card already..not a good way to fight black and white law to win a spot..Seems purely tactical that Begich wants existing (bad) Alaska law could also be said that Sweeney wants to limit Alaskan’s choices to all women by gender whining about Begich..Not really a fighter, more like just another sore loser running to the leftist Alaskan courts, which is not what Alaska needs in our leadership positions. A fighter would be better viewed by Alaskan voters to accept the law as written (even though it stinks) and run as a write-in, if allowed, in the August special election.

  13. Sweeney has now anti-endorsed Begich. Is this the start of a left wing cancel culture smear?
    Next I assume Sweeney will endorse Peltola to play the race card. Sad indeed from a once-promising “Republican”. Sweeney is only a Republican to channel the power from playing the game.

  14. The statement by Tara Sweeney wholly disqualifies her as a candidate, using her own words she fully acknowledges that she should not advance but demands that she advance in the next breath. This is shameful on her part and on the part of those advising her. Simply put, it’s crazy talk and we don’t need anymore lawmakers who start off as lawbreakers.

  15. Probably need to consult Scott Kendall… Reality is that a Sweeney advance to the ballot will split democrat votes and ensure a Republican win. Sweeney’s gender whine is a very bad play – the Bush cultures prize respect and that comment was totally lacking it – and totally false. Bad enough to harbor such prejudice, but much worse to use such prejudice to lie to smear anyone. Vote Nick Begich please.

  16. Surrogates who clearly want to split the conservative ballot are the real actors behind this expensive lawsuit. They need to be identified.

    Begich still needs to drop out before the deadline.

    The only was Democrat- socialists can win an election is by fragmenting the majority conservative voters.

  17. Tara, first you say you don’t know what a woman is but now you say Begich is limiting choices for women?!?! ???? You are literally incapable of seeing the contradictory stupidity of that, aren’t you? I feel a little sorry for you because you are not in any way good at this. You’re the AOC clown of AK.

  18. Tara, let’s try to have some integrity please. Where’s the proof on “your” allegations that Nick Begich wants to keep woman barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? C’mon, you sound like a demirat spewing whatever pops into your head. Grow up and try again another time, as you didn’t make the cut.

  19. wait, so shes saying the single remaining male running against two women is some how limiting womens opportunity if she is not allowed to run although against current rules?

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