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Sarah Palin advances to House general election in Alaska

The former vice presidential nominee placed in the top four in Alaska's open primary for the state's lone congressional seat.


UPDATE (Aug. 31, 2022, 8:12 p.m. ET): Democrat Mary Peltola has defeated Sarah Palin in Alaska’s House special election, NBC News reported Wednesday. Peltola will serve the remaining four months of the term of GOP Rep. Don Young, who died in March.

Sarah Palin is ready for her close-up. Again. 

The former Republican vice presidential nominee ranked among the top four vote-getters in the state's open U.S. House primary, which uses ranked choice voting, NBC News projected. The result means she moves on to the general election in November. 

Somewhat confusingly, Palin was also on the ballot Tuesday in a special election to finish the rest of Rep. Don Young's term. Young died in March at 88.

The results of that election, which could take weeks to count, might end up sending Palin to Washington for a few months ahead of the November general election for the same seat.

Palin, a former Alaska governor, has been out of politics in an official capacity for nearly 14 years, and the last time she ran a race was her gaffe-prone experience as Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2008. She embraced extremist views at the time, at one point claiming Barack Obama "pals around with terrorists.” And her willingness to spew bigoted and self-serving lies like that is why some claim she paved the way for Donald Trump to succeed in the Republican Party. 

A lot has changed since then. 

Although Trump endorsed her in this year’s primary, it seems like there are legitimate reasons to question whether her sway over the conservative movement has vanished.

Palin has bounced from camera to camera ever since the 2008 campaign, briefly as a reality TV subject and often as a pundit for various right-wing media outlets. The biggest news she has been involved in of late was her failed libel lawsuit against The New York Times. 

The absurdity and crassness she made her calling cards have been normalized. Younger, louder and madder lawmakers who came after her would look at her “terrorist” remark as light work. 

Palin might ultimately win her congressional bid. But her image as a uniquely ferocious conservative is no more. The self-proclaimed “Mama Grizzly” is making a comeback … but her roar isn’t nearly as menacing as it once was.