Alaskan Independent candidate for House of Representatives Al Gross has chosen to withdraw from the race and has encouraged voters to vote for one of the two Indigenous Alaskan women who are running for the seat—Democrat Mary Peltola, Yup’ik, and Republican Tara Sweeney, Inupiaq.
He said in a press statement:
"It is with great hope for Alaska’s future that I have decided to end my campaign to become our state’s next Congressman."
"There are two outstanding Alaska Native women in this race who would both serve our state well, and I encourage my supporters to stay engaged and consider giving their first-place vote to whichever of them best matches their own values."
"Thank you for your support."
\u201cHi Alaska! Team Mary here. As a candidate from a rural district, Mary has to travel by air to meet voters in Alaska's population centers. Internet connectivity issues in the Bush also compel her to fly to Anchorage just to do meet & greets by Zoom! \ud83e\uddf5 1/4\u201d— Mary Peltola (@Mary Peltola) 1656031277
Gross didn't come right out and say that his withdrawal was an attempt to prevent former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin from being elected but his timing and words encouraging voters to support other candidates indicate it was likely a factor.
\u201cSo did Al Gross withdraw to give Peltola a better chance?\u201d— Snarky Barky Bitch \ud83d\ude01 (@Snarky Barky Bitch \ud83d\ude01) 1655833128
\u201cThis is a \u2018Stop Sarah Palin\u2019 move. Every little bit helps.\u201d— Ron Filipkowski \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Ron Filipkowski \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1655856432
\u201cELECTION UPDATE (6-23)\nIt's likely that Alaska's Division of Elections will include only three candidates on our Special Election ballot. If true on 6-25, I'll Tweet you my heartfelt THANK YOU video and invite you to vote for Mary Peltola, who shares many of my progressive views.\u201d— SANTA CLAUS FOR ALASKA (@SANTA CLAUS FOR ALASKA) 1656025428
In the time since Gross' decision to drop out of the race, Alaskan elections officials have ruled Sweeney cannot be listed on the ranked choice ballot for the special election to fill the seat vacated by the death of Representative Don Young—who served as Representative for Alaska's at-large district for 49 years, because she came fifth in the vote count.
\u201cThe Division of Elections says the fifth-place candidate, which is currently Tara Sweeney, cannot take Al Gross' place on the special general election ballot for U.S. House. #akelect\u201d— Sean Maguire (@Sean Maguire) 1655845695
Sweeney has said that she will not challenge the election officials' decision.
\u201cIt\u2019s official: \n\nBecause Al Gross (I) withdrew < 64 days before election day, the AK-AL RCV special general election will be between the 3 others in the Top 4: Sarah Palin (R), Nick Begich III (R) and Mary Peltola (D). 5th place Tara Sweeney (R) won\u2019t be elevated to the Top 4.\u201d— RRH Elections (@RRH Elections) 1656190514
Karina Waller, manager of Sweeney's campaign, said in an interview:
"We made the decision that this is not a candidate fight."
"This is on the ranked choice voting procedures that the voters approved, and ... this is not our fight."
Mary Peltola seems to have a lot of support on Twitter:
\u201cAbsent a court order to the contrary, looks like the US House candidates will be Begich, Palin & @MaryPeltola. Really hoping AK comes out strong for Mary. She\u2019s the only candidate with experience in legislative office here. Let\u2019s send a qualified Indigenous woman to Congress.\u201d— One Hot Mess AK (@One Hot Mess AK) 1655853924
\u201cGreat news! Looks like I will be one of the 4 choices on the Ranked Choice Voting ballot August 16th. I hope to earn your highest-ranked vote. I\u2019m grateful and couldn\u2019t have done it without the support from around the state\u2014especially my family & friends. https://t.co/aMgE8LEOLi\u201d— Mary Peltola (@Mary Peltola) 1655514189
\u201cI\u2019m honored to be endorsed by the Alaska AFL-CIO. As our next Congressperson, I\u2019ll pursue the stability and progress our state needs. I\u2019ll always champion working families & ensure that we take care of our own so hardworking Alaskans don\u2019t have to seek opportunities elsewhere.\u201d— Mary Peltola (@Mary Peltola) 1655956882
Some Twitter users praised Gross for his decision.
\u201c@RonFilipkowski He seems like a good man and I appreciate, and admire, his stance. For some (most?) it is about Service\u201d— Ron Filipkowski \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Ron Filipkowski \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1655856432
While others were concerned about the effects of his dropping out on the state's new election system.
\u201c@RonFilipkowski It\u2019s a cynical move. Everyone knows it. It could be the thing that brings down this whole top 4 primary experiment.\nIn their first experience with an innovative election system Alaskans have to watch rich people in ridiculous Tammany hall style antics.\nIt\u2019ll sour all AK politics.\u201d— Ron Filipkowski \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Ron Filipkowski \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1655856432
Many voiced concern that Sarah Palin might soon become a member of Congress.
\u201cSarah Palin, Sarah Huckabee, Boebert, and MTG could all be in Congress soon! JFC!\u201d— John the Filmmaker (@John the Filmmaker) 1655838381
\u201c@taraforalaska You should sue! it's really important that Alaskans get the options to choose for you! We need a moderate and expercienced alaskan in congress that can work across party lines. Not Palin. Please sue and please run!\u201d— @TaraForAlaska (@@TaraForAlaska) 1655873041
\u201cIf every Alaska Native votes for Mary Peltola, then we will have the first Alaska Native in US Congress.\u201d— Dr. Sean Asik\u0142uk Topkok (pronounced A-seek-a-luke) (@Dr. Sean Asik\u0142uk Topkok (pronounced A-seek-a-luke)) 1655950554
\u201cCool, so is Al Gross going to give all that campaign cash to Peltola or what? Hand it on over, Al. Let\u2019s get some good shit done.\u201d— Chiara Desidiare (@Chiara Desidiare) 1655846391
Alaska's special election will take place August 16, 2022.