In the fourth surprise win for Democrats post the Dobbs’ decision, Native American Mary Peltola defeated two Republicans, including the infamous Sarah Palin, in a special election to replace deceased Don Young. Peltola ran a relentlessly upbeat campaign that implicitly contrasted her reputation for kindness with the bombast and penchant for drama associated with Palin, even though the two women have been friends since serving together in the Statehouse as expectant mothers, as the New York Times pointed out. As the top two vote-getters in Alaska’s jungle primary, they face off again for a full term in November. The district which represents all of Alaska is R+8 but the race is rated a Toss-up.
Mary Peltola is a Yup’ik Alaska Native, salmon advocate, and Democrat who represented the Bethel region in the Alaska House of Representatives for 10 years. Born in Alaska, she was raised on the Kuskokwim River in Kwethluk, Tuntutuliak, Platinum, and Bethel. At the age of six, she began fishing commercially with her father. In college. Peltola worked as a herring and salmon technician for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. At age 22, she began an internship with the Alaska legislature. Two years later, married and pregnant, she won her election and began representing the Bethel region in the statehouse.
As a lawmaker, Peltola helped rebuild the Bush Caucus, which passed legislation and influenced budgets that improved lives in rural Alaska. After leaving the legislature, Peltola worked as manager of Community Development and Sustainability for the Donlin gold mine project and, after six years, joined the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. As executive director of the commission, she helped mobilize 118 tribes and rural Alaskans to advocate for the protection of salmon runs in Western Alaska. She has served on the Orutsararmiut Native Council Tribal Court and the Bethel City Council, and on the boards of the Nature Conservancy, the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Alaska Children’s Trust, and the Russian Orthodox Sacred Sites in Alaska.
Rep. Peltola knows that guns are a part of Alaska’s culture and a core tool of a subsistence lifestyle. She grew up hunting and will continue to own guns and support the right of Alaskans to own guns. But she believes it’s past time to take common-sense action. She supports provisions like secure storage laws, reasonable waiting periods, and universal background checks that can make all of us safer while still preserving the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
Rep. Peltola is the only pro-choice woman in this race and as U.S. Representative, she will stand up for women and fight to enshrine abortion protections in federal law.
Rep. Peltola knows that climate change is one of the most pressing crises facing our planet, and communities across Alaska are already experiencing its devastating impacts. Severe droughts, record-breaking forest fires, increasing temperatures, melting ice and snow, species migration, decreasing salmon returns, rising sea levels, and erosion threaten the health, safety, and livelihoods of all Alaskans. In Congress, she will work to steer federal funds to local Alaskan energy projects and streamline burdensome regulatory processes that curb sustainable energy development.