With Sarah Palin Declaring for Open House Seat, Alaska's Congressional Delegation Could Look a Lot Different in 2022


The mama grizzly is officially back in action. The question is whether she will bring some company along with her to Capitol Hill.

On Friday, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential candidate — announced she was running for the House of Representatives seat vacated when Rep. Don Young died at the age of 88.

“Public service is a calling, and I would be honored to represent the men and women of Alaska in Congress, just as Rep. Young did for 49 years,” Palin said in a statement, according to the Washington Examiner.

(For updates on Sarah Palin’s jump back into elected politics — and for news and analysis on the 2022 midterms that you won’t see in the mainstream press — make sure to check back with The Western Journal. To help us battle the establishment media and Big Tech, please subscribe.)

“I realize that I have very big shoes to fill, and I plan to honor Rep. Young’s legacy by offering myself up in the name of service to the state he loved and fought for because I share that passion for Alaska and the United States of America,” Palin said.

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Friday was the last day for candidates to declare for the race to replace Young, who died March 18. And, while it’s a crowded field — there are 51 candidates who declared, according to the Anchorage Daily News — the 58-year-old Palin automatically becomes the biggest name in a very big field.

(This is if you don’t count a man who lives in North Pole, Alaska who had his name legally changed from Thomas O’Connor to Santa Claus. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his namesake’s fiscally unsustainable gift-giving habits, Mr. Claus describes himself as an “independent, progressive, democratic socialist.”)

The primary election for Alaska’s sole House seat will be held June 11 and the top two vote-getters will proceed to a runoff on Aug. 16.

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However, the race to replace Young isn’t the biggest race in Alaska this year, despite Palin being in the hunt. It’s not even the biggest race on Aug. 16.

That honor goes to the Republican primary for Senate between incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski — who, depending on the day, is oft the biggest RINO in the Senate — and her Alaska Republican Party-backed challenger, Kelly Tshibaka, head of the Alaska Department of Administration.

Tshibaka isn’t just backed by the state GOP — who were incensed by Murkowski’s vote to convict Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial — but she’s also backed by Trump himself.

It’s not just impeachment or Donald Trump that’s driving this, however. In case you’re unaware of how RINO-tastic Murkowski can be, the past week has been a good object lesson: The Democratic Party is trying to woo the Alaska senator to support President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, so it doesn’t look like Jackson is a hyper-partisan pick to fill retiring Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat.

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The Hill described Murkowski as “one of President Biden’s best hopes of attracting bipartisan support for his Supreme Court nominee,” but said that, “[g]iven the dynamics of a Senate Republican primary, a ‘no’ vote is the safer choice, as it deprives her Trump-supported challenger, Kelly Tshibaka, of another issue to run on.”

The fact that anyone even has to ask which way a Republican senator would vote on Jackson — whose hearings will forever be remembered as the first time a woman who will sit on the Supreme Court said she couldn’t define what a woman is because she isn’t a biologist — means it’s already another issue for Tshibaka to run on.

“Once again it’s time for the favorite Washington, D.C. pastime of guessing which way Lisa Murkowski will vote,” said Tshibaka in a February media release.

“When I’m the next senator from Alaska, the people will never have to wonder what my views are. I will always side with the Constitution and oppose radical leftists.”

Tshibaka also said Jackson was “a clear leftist” who would “undoubtedly follow her ideology in her rulings and write legislation from the bench.”

While there hasn’t been consistent polling in the race, a March 14-18 poll by Cygnal showed Tshibaka with a 51 percent to 49 percent lead over Murkowski. According to FiveThirtyEight, this is the first poll which has shown Tshibaka on top.

Murkowski has been through this rigamarole before. In 2010, she lost the Republican primary to Joe Miller but won the general election via a write-in campaign. The times have a’changed, though; not only is the party more conservative, but Murkowski’s record as a RINO has solidified further in the intervening years, particularly over her impeachment vote.

And there lies how Sarah Palin could best change the dynamics of the 2022 Senate race in Alaska. Palin and Murkowski aren’t exactly political allies, with Palin even going so far as to hint at a run against Murkowski herself last year:

Given that a run could have divided the votes against Murkowski, however, Young’s tragic death still provides the best way forward for the GOP. Not only is the highest-profile state Republican running for a seat in Congress, she’s also free to endorse Tshibaka now.

And, if things end up going right, Alaska’s congressional delegation could be getting a serious conservative makeover in 2022.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture