WASHILLA, Alaska (AP) — Alaska U.S. House candidate Sarah Palin called on Republican Nick Begich to drop out of the race Monday, holding a news conference in the same place where on a holiday weekend more than a decade ago she announced the her plans to resign. as governor of Alaska.
“He keeps calling me a quitter,” she told reporters, later adding: “And now he wants me, the one who is clearly the only true conservative in this race who can win, wants me to quit! Now this is the real joke. Sorry, Nico. I never back down, I reload.”
Monday was the deadline for candidates to withdraw from the November general election. Begich, who has been critical of Palin during the campaign, seeking to paint her as hypocritical and questioning her motivations as a candidate, said Monday that his campaign is “confident that we are on a positive trajectory to win November”.
“The ranked-choice poll showed that Palin simply does not have enough support from Alaskans to win an election, and her performance in the Special was embarrassing as a former governor and vice presidential candidate,” he said in a statement Monday.
Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, and Begich lost the Aug. 16 special election to serve out the remainder of the late Republican Rep. Don Young’s term to Democrat Mary Peltola. The results were recorded on Wednesday and certified on Friday. Peltola led the first-choice votes heading into the qualifying rounds, followed by Palin and then Begić. Begić was the candidate who was eliminated first.
Of Begich voters who ranked second, 36% chose Peltola and about 64% chose Palin.
A spokesman for Peltola’s campaign, Josh Wilson, said Peltola will be sworn in on Sept. 13.
Peltola, Palin and Begich also advanced from the August primary to the November general election, with the winner of that contest serving a two-year term. They will be joined by libertarian Chris Bye after the fourth-place finisher in the primary, Republican Tara Sweeney, dropped out.
Voters in 2020 approved changes to Alaska’s election process, eliminating party primaries in favor of open primaries in which the top four vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election and establishing ranked-choice voting for the general election. The special elections for the House were the first ranked elections under the system.
Palin’s news conference at her lakeside home in Wasilla on Monday was interrupted at times by the noise of passing planes.
She again defended her decision to step down as governor in July 2009, a decision she announced on July 3 of that year. He said Monday that being governor was a job he wanted to have, but resigning was the “right thing to do.” He cited ethics complaints in part that he said were frivolous and distracting.
Begic last week questioned Palin’s ability to win an election and urged her to drop out, a call she repeated Monday.
Palin said it “wouldn’t make sense” for her to drop out. If Begich doesn’t withdraw, “then you’ll be able to see us not just talking the talk, but walking the road we haven’t even begun to fight,” he said.
Bohrer reported from Juneau, Alaska.