Alaskan voters face an unprecedented election with 48 candidates running for the seat to succeed the man who held the state's one U.S. House seat since 1949.
Although some of this week's candidates are well-known, such as Sarah Palin and Santa Claus, many others are relatively unknowns or political newbies.
Some voters are overwhelmed by the number of candidates and short time frame for holding the election following the death of Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young on March 18. They want to know more about their options and how they can help. This election will be the first under a 2020 system that eliminates party primaries. All candidates will be on the same one page ballot.
The four most popular candidates will move on to the August special election. In that election, ranked choice voting will take place. The winner of this contest will be elected to the remainder of Young’s term which ends in January. An additional set of elections will be held later in the year to determine who is elected for a two-year term that begins in January.
Max Sumner, a Wasilla-based general contractor, stated that he is serious about his bid for the seat and said that he would be open to the idea of being part the "first experiment" in the new elections process. He also said that he had previously run for Congress.
"I disagree with career politicians running the government. He said that he thought it should be "a few terms and you're out."
He stated that he voted for himself, and is asking others to vote as well. However, he is not campaigning. He also said that he is supporting Josh Revak, a Republican who co-chaired Young's reelection campaign. Young's widow has also endorsed Revak.
There are 16 Republican candidates, including Palin, an ex-Alaska governor; Nick Begich (a businessman from a prominent political family of Democrats); John Coghill, a former state lawmaker; Tara Sweeney who was also a cochair of Young's campaign, and who has been endorsed in part by a group representing the leaders of Alaska Native regional corporations.
22 candidates are independents, nearly half of them. Al Gross, an ortho surgeon, ran for Senate in 2020, with support from state Democratic party. He is a self-described, "independent progressive democratic socialist", whose legal name was Santa Claus, and serves on the North Pole city council.
Gross upset some Democrats by saying that he wouldn't agree to co-operating with Democrats if he was elected in an interview with Anchorage Daily News. Since then, he has said that he would. Alaska Democratic Party has asked voters to choose from any of six Democrats running.
In the past 20 years, Young was the closest Democrat to defeating them. Young won 50% and Ethan Berkowitz 45%.