Special election results prompt losing candidates to consider dropping out of regular US House election, too

Chris Constant: “There’s no place” in the regular election for candidates who finished outside the top four in the special. (Wesley/Alaska Public Media)

Candidates for U.S. House who did poorly in Saturday’s special primary are re-evaluating whether they want to run in the regular election for the next two-year term of Congress.

Democrat Chris Constant lost the special primary and is dropping out of the regular. Now that we have a top four in the special primary, he said, attention will focus on those candidates as they simultaneously campaign for the special general and the regular primary.

“There is no place for somebody who didn’t qualify in the top four in the special,” he said. “The financial interests are going to support one of those (four). And I think I need to be behind the one who most closely represents my values.”

Constant is endorsing Democrat Mary Peltola, the fourth-place finisher. Constant finished in eight place, according to the latest ballot count. He said staying in the regular would “clog the lane” that Peltola is in.

An Alaska Native woman with gray hair and pearl earring
Tara Sweeney (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

It’s not clear what fifth-place finisher Tara Sweeney will do. She issued a statement conceding that she’s out of the special and saying she would meet with her campaign team and supporters to consider her next steps in the regular.

Nonpartisan Jeff Lowenfels finished seventh in the special. He said he’s not looking forward to another crowded primary, but he’s also not ready to make a decision.

“I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be a repeat of what we’ve got here, with 20-30 people running,” he said. “Which once again sets up an opportunity where there are no issues that one can debate, where there are no forums. That does not sound like something I want to participate in.”

The deadline to drop out of the regular primary is June 25. 

Thirty-one candidates are running in that race. Election Day is August 16. On that day, voters will also decide who wins the special general election to serve the remaining months of the year in the U.S. House. 

As for Constant, he said he’s happy as a member of the Anchorage Assembly.

“There’s plenty of work to be done at home that’s consequential and meaningful,” he said.

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Liz here.

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