Former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin said Friday she is running for her state’s congressional seat after years away from the national spotlight, casting herself as a fighter against the “radical left.”
The Republican will vie with more than 40 candidates to fill the vacancy left by Rep. Don Young — the House of Representatives’ longest-serving active member — who died last month. Palin shot to right-wing stardom as the late Sen. John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential election and went on to champion conservative causes on Fox News, boosting the tea party movement.
“America is at a tipping point,” Palin said in a Facebook post in which she denounced an “America-last agenda” and criticized inflation and rising gas prices — key talking points for Republicans as the midterms approach. “As I’ve watched the far left destroy the country, I knew I had to step up and join the fight.”
A spokesperson for the Alaska Division of Elections, Tiffany Montemayor, confirmed in an email that Palin filed her paperwork to enter the race on Friday, the deadline to enter.
Young’s death kicked off the first special election in Alaska since the state adopted a top-four primary system. Candidates of every party will compete in a June 11 primary; the four who get the most votes will appear on an Aug. 16 ranked-choice ballot.
That reform, passed by voters in 2020 and opposed by many Republicans, has scrambled politics in a state where Democrats have not won a federal election since 2008. More than a dozen candidates had already filed ahead of the April 1 deadline, including 2020 Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Al Gross, and Republican state Sen. Josh Revak.
No other candidate in the race has won statewide before, but Palin’s popularity in the state fell dramatically after her 2008 vice presidential campaign and her decision to resign as governor the following summer. In 2018, when Palin suggested that she might challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) after the moderate incumbent voted against Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, a poll conducted by Alaska Survey Research found that just 31 percent of Alaskans had a favorable view of Palin.
Palin had expressed interest in filling Young’s seat last month. “If I were asked to serve in the House and take his place, I would be humbled and honored,” she told right-wing news outlet Newsmax. “In a heartbeat, I would. We will see how this process goes in filling that seat — it would be an honor.”
Announcing her candidacy Friday, Palin criticized liberal stances on immigration and called for “energy security” while saying the federal government should let the “free market” reign.
This story will be updated.