Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Monday again called on fellow Republican Nick Begich III to drop out of November’s election for the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives so that the GOP can unite behind a single candidate.
With a deadline of 5 p.m. Monday for candidates to withdraw, Begich said he has no intention of doing so.
Palin held a hastily called news conference at her Wasilla home on Monday after finishing second to Democrat Mary Peltola last week in the ranked choice special election to fill the remainder of the term of the late Rep. Don Young, the long-serving Republican who died in March.
Palin, Peltola, Begich and Libertarian Chris Bye face each other in the November ranked choice general election to serve a full two-year term in Congress starting in January.
In an Instagram post on Monday morning, complete with a white flag of surrender, Palin wrote that “Republicans must unite” and “I know when to take one for the team.” She called on Begich “to do the right thing” and drop out with the “clock ticking.”
“I’m calling on negative Nick Begich to get out of this race,” Palin told reporters and supporters gathered on the lawn outside her Lake Lucille home. “He does not represent the best of Alaska. He represents the good old boys network, the establishment and yes, the liberals, the liberals in the Democrat Party. Only a Democrat sympathizer would selfishly stay in this race after getting thumped three times, three times in a row by his GOP opponent, just to enable a Democrat to hold the Alaskan people’s seat in the United States House of Representatives.”
Palin said she has no intention of quitting the race.
Later Monday, Begich’s campaign issued a statement saying he was staying in the race: “We are confident that we are on a positive trajectory to win in November,” his campaign wrote.
Begich said Palin had been “embarrassing” as a vice presidential candidate and governor and that her high unfavorable ratings among Alaska voters means she can’t win a statewide ranked choice election. He has previously called on Palin to withdraw and said that Alaskans want someone “less polarizing” than Peltola.
“I will continue traveling the state, making the case that this election is about a choice between Mary Peltola and Nick Begich,” he added.
[ADN Politics podcast — How Mary Peltola won Alaska’s special election for U.S. House]
Palin has railed against Alaska’s new ranked choice voting system, calling it “weird” and “cockamamie,” and she said that it had “disenfranchised” Alaska voters by sending Peltola to Congress to fill the remainder of Young’s term, effectively empowering President Joe Biden and House Speaker Pelosi to “lock up our state.”
About half of Begich voters in the special congressional election voted for Palin as their second choice, but more than a quarter of Begich voters ranked Peltola second, crossing party lines. A fifth of his voters did not rank any candidate as their second choice, contributing to Peltola’s advantage.
Alaska pollsters have said their voter research suggests Palin’s high negatives with many Alaska voters make Begich a stronger challenger to Peltola than Palin.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
ADN contributor Nathaniel Herz and reporter Emily Goodykoontz contributed from Wasilla.