Downing: Alaskans are represented by Peltola and The Squad today, but can do better in 2024

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By SUZANNE DOWNING

Rep. Mary Peltola continues to have support among left-leaning Lower 48 politicos after she emerged victorious in Alaska’s messy open-primary, ranked-choice general voting system in 2022.

Conservative Alaska voters, faced with a contentious field last year, awarded Peltola enough second-place votes to lock in her win.

As a candidate with low name recognition, Peltola committed to bipartisanship, saying she drew inspiration from the late Congressman Don Young. However, her voting record since November has revealed a different story. 

Peltola’s support for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries as House Speaker, casting 15 votes in his favor, was the first big item that raised eyebrows around the 49th state. 

She voted against the Strategic Production Response Act and justified her absence during the final vote by claiming she was unaware voting was about to occur.

Peltola voted against the censure of Rep. Adam Schiff, who was the unethical impeachment manager for Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the now-discredited “Russia collusion” attack on former President Donald Trump.

Recently, she joined most Democrats in opposing the National Defense Authorization Act. The rationale behind her “no” vote lies in her desire for culture-war earmarks to fund military transgender treatments and surgeries, as well as paying military women a month of leave for late-term abortions. Peltola has also supported transgender males’ participation in female athletic competitions.

She voted against H.R. 5, the Parents Bill of Rights, and has been advocating for a national railroad strike, urging Starbucks baristas to unionize, and encouraging pizza workers in Alaska to do the same.

Peltola’s consistent absence is notable: She has missed 16 times more votes than the median Democrat House member. In a House with 435 members, she is Number 12 for most missed votes.

While she participated in the women’s Congressional Softball game against journalists, she failed to show up for work the next day when almost all amendments to the National Defense Appropriations Act were voted on. Her inability to get out of bed deprives Alaskans of a voice in the House.

When she does vote, Peltola votes in line with Rep. Nancy Pelosi 84 percent of the time, Rep. Ilhan Omar 77 percent, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 78 percent. Keep in mind that 53 percent of Alaskans voted for Trump.

Nick Begich, a lifelong Republican who ran for Congress in 2022, has seen enough. He decided to run again after witnessing Peltola repeatedly vote against Alaska’s values. 

Although he faces the challenge of overcoming his relatives, who include well-known Democrats, Begich enjoys the continued support of his followers.

But Alaska’s unique method of selecting representatives, introduced with Ballot Measure 2 in 2020, deviates from the rest of the nation. It’s a tangled mess.

The open primary format eliminated the Republican Party of Alaska’s ability to independently choose its candidate for the general election. 

Instead, all candidates, whether clowns or statesmen, participate in the same primary ballot. In 2022, this resulted in a massive ballot with 48 candidates. 

The top four vote getters from the primary advance to the general election, where voters are then asked to rank the candidates in order of preference. If a voter’s preferred candidate loses, their vote is transferred to their next choice, granting them an opportunity to vote again. In this scheme, some voters get to vote more than once, while others’ votes are counted just one time.

Given the array of choices Alaskan voters had in November, which included three conservatives and one liberal candidate selected in the primary, it remains perplexing how a radical like Peltola emerged victorious. 

Supporters of ranked-choice voting had promised that the system would eliminate extremists, but this is not how it worked in real life. Alaskans ended up with a de facto member of The Squad.

Will it happen again?

Begich begins his campaign with a solid base of one quarter of the likely vote this time around. However, with less than a year remaining until the primary ballot is set in Alaska, a lot can happen with campaign hijinks, as we saw in 2022.

Last year, Begich garnered support from major conservative organizations like Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works for America, as well as the endorsement of the Alaska Republican Party. 

And yet, the National Republican Congressional Committee is not structured to work well with the ranked-choice voting system, which in a state like Alaska all but guarantees the presence of multiple Republicans on a general election ballot.

This time around, the NRCC can and should focus on highlighting Peltola’s extreme positions to ensure that Alaskans can make a more informed decision in the upcoming 2024 primary and general elections.

For now, Alaskans are represented by a bait-and-switcher who holds some of the most mind-boggling positions in the history of the U.S. Congress. Alaska has the distinction of being the most conservative district in the country to be represented by a Democrat. We can do better.

National organizations like the NRCC, Freedom Works, Americans for Prosperity, and Club for Growth will be crucial in helping prevent a recurrence of 2022’s series of unfortunate events.

Suzanne Downing is publisher of Must Read Alaska.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Alaska working people have no representation in Washington DC. The contingent in Washington is at the trough with the rest of the DC idiots, continual writing checks the working people have to cash. Inflation is a tax on every working person that will never go down. Peltola and her ilk pander to the welfare class that expect someone else to pay their way in life and vote to continue to kiss the ass of those that work for nothing. Nothing will change until the Fed stops printing money. We are on the path of 1921 Weimar Germany and I don’t see any way to stop the slide at this point.

  2. Excellent article, Suzanne. Unless conservative and moderate Republicans can get together and agree to really take back the lone House seat from this radical uneducated Peltola, we will end up with another RCV congressperson. Begich filed early, again, so let’s get behind him this time.
    Opportunists like Sarah Palin need not apply.

    • Agree, Marla. Sarah is good at making messes and then running away to find another place to mess. I’ll be hosting several pro-Begich campaign cook-outs. Hope you can make it to them.

      • A sincere question:

        The biggest obstacle Nick had was his last name. Many in Alaska react to that name the way progressives do to Trump. No way in hell.

        Allowing for the fact Queen Sarah sucked the oxygen out of the room, his name remains an obstacle he couldn’t overcome.

        What has he done/is doing to overcome that resistance?

        • You haven’t conducted your independent research, MA. That’s your problem. NB3 does not roll with “Begich.”
          .
          If you took the time to evaluate him and study up on him, you would know. Suzanne has addressed this matter countless times.
          .
          If you only examine the surface of a candidate, like his last name, you will be stuck with someone like Mary Peltola ……..again.

          • Problem is, I’m not the one who needs convincing. It’s the people who were team Sarah (hallowed be her name) or team anyone not named Begich.

            Cheerleading for him isn’t gonna change this.

  3. It’s past time to send Mary back to Bethel, where she can focus on making fishcakes and fostering the overt sexualization of kindergarteners.

  4. Unless the GOP can pull its head out of its backside, she’ll be re elected.

    The AK GOP has a long history of circular firing squads, ineptness, and inability to police its own ranks.

    Three things are necessary to beat Mary.

    1-find an electable candidate (none from last race) and throw full support behind them. Strongly discourage anyone else from getting involved.

    2-learn to use the system as it exists, not as they want it to be. Yes, extended early voting, RVC, ballot curing are bad things, but they are the current rules of the game.

    3-actually stop whining and vote.

  5. I already heard Begich on the radio twice. He needs to do more of that. He knows the issues better than any candidate I’ve seen in Alaska.

  6. Well said Suzanne. I only differ from your assessment in one aspect: Yeah, a few Republican voters ranked Mary quite contrary second; but the problem lay in the candidacy of Sarah Palin. Her hollywood entrance to the Republican Convention in April, 2022 should have told us everything we needed to know. In the candidate forum at Convention Nick blew everyone else off the stage – and the best Sarah could do was say “I agree with Nick.” She had no original ideas of her own, but stole enough votes from Nick to give the election to Mary.

  7. This is nonsense. Clearly the author doesn’t understand RCV is or attempting to mislead their readers. Peltola is far from a radical considering she is one of the Ds who voted against party the most. Look at HJR 2 or other gun legislation. Furthermore, she championed the willow project. The squad is the most progressive group in the house and there could not be a further dem than Peltola. Downing is a liar.

    • Little pup – this doesn’t come from Downing. It comes from Peltola and her claims to the public about who she is. Peltola is about as moderate as a dozen jalapeños in a bowl of Tijuana chili. It looks good but as sure as the sun rises you’re going to regret it.

  8. Thing #4 necessary to beat Mary.

    Stop fighting over and obsessing over the last election. It’s over, Mary won.

    Fight the 24 race, not the 22 race.

  9. We need to get rid of this joke of RCV, it’s the only way a Democrat can get elected to the house/senate.

    • Never, ever challenge worse.

      We thought nobody could be worse than Carter. We got Obama. We thought nobody could be worse than Obama. We got Biden.

  10. We won’t get past Mary Petola unless we can get the “Native voters” to use common sense. I know that sounds racist but it’s the truth. My husband worked for a Native corporation for many years and we met many people who were the salt of the earth. We don’t need to insinuate that those who live in the Bush are stupid–they just don’t see the importance of the issue. They seem to think “If someone is also Native then I will vote for them because they are one of us.” That’s why I used the term common sense in my first sentence because that attitude lacks common sense! I am of German/Norwegian ethnicity but I would NEVER vote for someone on that basis or on their church affiliation or if they were from the same town, were an acquaintance from way back or whatever.

    • So, in other words, the majority of Native voters are racist, by deciding how to vote purely based on race.

      That is simple fact that politically-correct ‘accepted opinion’ in Alaska cannot acknowledge.

  11. I voted for Sarah last time. I liked her spunk and wanted her to win for vice president. I’ll be with Begich this time. We have to get rid of Mary and Begich is serious about getting it done.

  12. Re: “The open primary format eliminated the Republican Party of Alaska’s ability to independently choose its candidate for the general election.”

    This is a problem for all parties, not just the Republican Party. In states that use some version a two-round system, it makes sense and is very feasible for all parties to work together to pass a law that requires candidates to get authorization from the party chair to use the party’s name when they file and run. Alaska definitely needs to pass this law.

  13. So, WVP are you saying you only voted for Palin and did not rank Begich ? That is exactly how Peltola won. And will win again. RANK THE F#@%*ING RED! Good grief….

    • Re: “That is exactly how Peltola won.”

      In that particular special election, ranking Begich second would have made no difference. In hindsight, Palin-first voters should have ranked Begich first. Simply ranking the red is not always good enough. Furthermore, native voters may have it locked up for Peltola even if her only challenger is Begich.

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