Alaska Native Mary Peltola Wins Full Term As State’s Sole House Representative

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola (D), who made history in August when she became the first Alaska Native to represent the state at the federal level, is projected to win a full House term.

Under Alaska’s new as the first person of Indigenous heritage to represent Alaska, a state where Alaska Natives make up almost 16% of the population. She also pushed unsuccessfully for a fisheries policy bill to be passed. Still, she did see her bill to establish an office of food security in the Veterans Affairs Department clear the House.

Even as the top candidates in the fall campaign, Peltola and Palin maintained a friendly rivalry, an artifact of their knowing each other from when they were both in the Alaska statehouse and pregnant simultaneously.

But the big story of the fall campaign involved another statehouse alum with whom Peltola had remained friendly: Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican. While Donald Trump endorsed Palin in the House race, the former president traveled to Alaska to campaign for Murkowski’s Republican competitor in the Senate contest, Kelly Tshibaka.

Peltola and Murkowski informally endorsed each other in October after Murkowski said she would rank Peltola first on her ranked-choice ballot. “I’m voting for her, so we’re even-steven,” Peltola said when told about Murkowski’s remarks, according to The Washington Post.

Peltola and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) informally endorsed each other in their fall campaigns.
Peltola and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) informally endorsed each other in their fall campaigns.

Spencer Platt via Getty Images

Both Murkowski and Peltola have been seen as pragmatic, relatively non-ideological lawmakers, so the mutual endorsement, likely to help Murkowski more than Peltola, was not a complete surprise. But it also reflected the political culture of Alaska.

“Alaska is a very small, tight-knit close community,” Peltola told HuffPost in August. “The funny thing about Alaska is there is this understanding that you are going to be working with these people the rest of your life, and we have a long memory, we have a lot of institutional knowledge. In my case, that has been a real asset.”

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