Republican Tara Sweeney files as official write-in candidate in Tuesday’s special election

Tara Sweeney. (Photo by Tara for Alaska)

Moderate Republican candidate Tara Sweeney filed Thursday as an official write-in candidate for Tuesday’s special election to fill the remainder of the late U.S. Rep. Don Young’s term, making her the highest profile write-in candidate in the special election.

Sweeney, who finished fifth in the June special primary election, said in a statement today that she made the late-in-the-game decision after requests from supporters. She said her attention and energy is focused on the regular election and its primary that’ll also be on Tuesday’s ballot.

“This decision was not made lightly. It was made only after repeated requests from supporters asking for the option to support a candidate more closely aligned with their values and beliefs,” she said in a statement. “My focus, however, remains on preparing for the upcoming regular primary election. … The race represents an inflection point for Alaska’s future representation in Washington, D.C.,; I believe voters wants a serious, experienced, clear-eyed candidate who will embrace the hard but rewarding work of serving as the state’s lone representative in the House.”

Supporters had hoped that Sweeney would have advanced to the special general election after independent candidate Al Gross, who finished third in the special primary election, withdrew from the race. However, state law, which was upheld by the Alaska Supreme Court, says the window for replacing the empty spot on the ballot had already closed by the time Gross had withdrawn.

That decision left just former Republican Gov. Sarah Palin, establishment-favored Republican Nick Begich and Democrat Mary Peltola on the ballot. Upon withdrawing, Gross endorsed both Peltola and Sweeney.

Sweeney is among six candidates who’ve been certified as write-ins. Other write-in candidates include independent candidate Lady Donna Dutchess, Libertarian Chris Bye, Democrat Ernest Thomas, independent candidate Sherry Strizak and American Independent Party Robert Ornelas.

The Division of Election only tallies write-in candidates in the ranked-choice election if the total number of write-ins finishes first or in a very close second place. If either case are satisfied, the Division of Elections would count the votes received by each write-in candidate and treat them as individual candidates during the tabulation process, which is expected to be released on Aug. 31.

Nearly 20,000 votes already cast, according to the Division of Elections’ ballot statistics.

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