Peltola says she’s still grieving but ready to return to work in Congress

a man and woman hug
Mary Peltola hugs her husband, Gene “Buzzy” Peltola Jr., on Aug. 31, 2022, when she learned she’d been elected to Congress. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska Congresswoman Mary Peltola says she’s ready to return to Washington. She’s been in Alaska since learning that her husband, Eugene “Buzzy” Peltola, died Sept. 12 following a plane crash.

“The past few weeks have been some of the most difficult in my life,” Rep. Peltola said in a statement her office issued. “I am so thankful for the space that Alaskans have given me to celebrate Buzzy’s life with my family, and for all those who celebrated it with us.”

She’ll continue to mourn, her statement says, “but I am ready to get to work, as I know that he would want.”

She expects to return next week to a House of Representatives in the midst of a shake-up. While she was away, her Democratic colleagues and a handful of Republicans hardliners voted to oust Kevin McCarthy as House speaker. Now, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries is proposing a bipartisan coalition.

That’s familiar territory for Peltola. She’s a moderate who belongs to several centrist groups in the House, including the Problem Solvers Caucus and the Blue Dog Coalition.

Bipartisan majorities are normal in the Alaska Legislature, where Peltola served for a decade, but unheard of in Congress.

“I’m prepared to talk to Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on the real issues that are affecting every district, like the cost of energy, the border crisis, and protecting Social Security for the future,” her statement reads.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her Read more about Lizhere.

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