Note: This article may contain commentary reflecting the author's opinion.

When Don Young–the longtime incumbent congressman from Alaska and Dean of the US House–passed away on March 18th, 2022, it left a vacancy that Alaska hasn’t seen in a long time. Don Young had served as Alaska’s lone congressman for nearly 50 years–starting his first term during the Nixon Administration. He also served as Dean of the US House for nearly 5 years. 

Congressman Young passed away at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport while traveling home to Alaska. He will lie in state at the US Capitol on March 29th.

Young was first elected to Congress after a special election was held to replace then-congressman Nick Begich. Begich disappeared and was pronounced dead in absentia after his plane disappeared on the way to a campaign event. Neither the plane nor the four occupants (which included then-House Majority Leader Hale Boggs) was ever found.

With the passing of a long time and an established congressman, it seems natural to expect a rush of candidates to enter the field to replace him. Currently, four candidates have announced their intention to enter the special election. 

Christopher Constant–an Anchorage Assembly member–is running as a Democrat.

Nick Begich III–the grandson of former congressman Nick Begich and nephew of former US Senator for Alaska Mark Begich–has deviated from his family’s historical democratic nature and is running as a Republican.

Independents Gregg Brelsford and Al Gross are also running in the special election. Brelsford is a former Bristol Bay Borough Manager. Al Gross–a fisherman and orthopedic surgeon–previously challenged incumbent Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan in 2020. Gross garnered 41.2% of the vote in what was considered a surprisingly close race. 

Constant, Begich, and Brelsford were challenging Young for the normally scheduled race in November.

However, one notable firebrand has been making the rounds in speculation. Former Governor of Alaska and Republican Nominee for Vice President Sarah Palin has been speculated as a potential candidate to replace Young. 

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In an interview with Eric Bolling, Palin stated, “oh my goodness, think of those huge shoes that are to be filled when we consider Don Young’s longevity and his passion, his love, his fighting spirit for our wonderful state of Alaska, and for the nation as a whole.” Palin went on to say, “if I were asked to serve in the House and take his place, I would be humbled and honored and I would in a heartbeat, I would.” She continued by stating, “we’ll see how that process is going to go in terms of filling that seat, but that would be an honor.”

The special election is scheduled for June 11th with a unique all-party primary. The top four finishers will face off in a general election scheduled for August 16th. In the August race, voters will be able to rank their preferred candidates in Alaska’s new rank-choice voting system. August 16th also serves as the primary date for the November election. 

Whoever wins the special election will serve out the remainder of Young’s term–which ends at the beginning of 2023. The top four finishers of the August 16th primary will go off to the November election–whoever wins that race will go on to serve a two-year term starting at the beginning of January 2023.