Sweeney files as official write-in candidate in special US House race

Former Trump Interior official Tara Sweeney at the memorial for Rep. Don Young at Anchorage Baptist Temple on April 2, 2022. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Republican congressional candidate Tara Sweeney has filed to be a write-in candidate in Tuesday’s special election to fill the remainder of late Rep. Don Young’s term. 

Sweeney, a former assistant Interior secretary, finished fifth in the June special primary, just below the cut-off to appear on the special general election ballot. Last month she said she was shifting her focus to her campaign for the full two-year U.S. House seat.

But on Thursday, Sweeney threw her hat into the special election ring after all. In a statement she said she made the decision to enter as a write-in candidate after “repeated requests from supporters asking for the option to support a candidate more closely aligned with their values and beliefs.”

“This decision was not made lightly,” she wrote. 

Sweeney is among six certified write-in candidates in the election. The candidates with their names on the ballot are Republicans Nick Begich and Sarah Palin and Democrat Mary Peltola.

Voters can rank a write-in candidate just as they would candidates whose names will appear on the ballot.

The Division of Elections treats all write-in votes as a separate category when tallying. If the total number of write-ins ends up in first or second place in the race, then the Division will tabulate the votes for each individual write-in candidate. Special election results are expected to be certified Sept. 2. 

Sweeney’s campaign has raised almost $300,000. A separate independent group organized to support her election has raised more than $630,000.

Tuesday is also primary election day for the two-year U.S. House term that begins in January. Sweeney’s name will appear on the primary ballot, along with 21 other candidates. Voters will pick one candidate on that ballot and the top four vote-getters will advance to the general election in November. 

“This race represents an inflection point for Alaska’s future representation in Washington, D.C.,” Sweeney said in her statement. “My pledge remains to work cooperatively with anyone who will join me in advancing policies that make Alaska a better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

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Kavitha George is the host of Alaska Morning News at Alaska Public Media. She also reports on business, labor and the economy. Reach her at kgeorge@alaskapublic.org.