Jon Doyle produced a more-of-a-short-story-than-review of Nick Begich Jr.’s lunatic book, Angels Don’t Play this HAARP. I suppose it was his way of demonstrating that Begich’s conspiracy theories are just too crazy to merit open critique.

Of course, Nick, who describes himself as a “lifelong Republican” on his campaign website, has some reason to a bit wack-a-doo. In 1972, his father’s plane disappeared without a trace somewhere between Anchorage and Juneau, Alaska. It was the same crash that killed House Majority Leader and Warren Commission member Hale Boggs, who was the father of Cokie Roberts as well as the grandfather of one of my high school friends. It’s a small world.

I once sat in a conference room in Pittsburgh with Nick’s brother Mark, a Democrat who was then running for one of Alaska’s two U.S. Senate seats. He won and served a single term. Nick Sr. was a Democrat, too, but it’s just easier to be a Republican in Alaska.

HAARP refers to the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program which is just a fancy way of saying it looks at the ionosphere. The headquarters are in Gakona, Alaska, which helps explain Nick’s interest in the project.

Nick Begich Jr., the son of the late U.S. Representative Nick Begich and brother of former U.S. Senator Mark Begich and retiring Alaska state senator Tom Begich, is the author of Angels Don’t Play This HAARP. He has claimed that the HAARP facility could trigger earthquakes and turn the upper atmosphere into a giant lens so that “the sky would literally appear to burn.” He maintains a website that claims HAARP is a mind control device.

Maybe you don’t care about any of this, but here’s why maybe you should. It’s looking more and more like Nick is going to come in third place in his bid to serve as Alaska’s lone House member in the U.S. Congress. He’s currently drawing 28 percent of the vote, which trails both Sarah Palin at 31 percent and Democrat Mary Peltola at 39 percent.

But Alaska has now adopted ranked choice voting, which means that if Nick remains in third place when all the counting is complete, his votes will be reassigned to either Palin or Peltola based on his supporters’ second preference.

If you combine Begich and Palin’s votes, 60 percent of the electorate voted for a Republican, which is actually a pretty poor result for the Democrats, and suggests that Palin will probably be the eventual winner. Who among us doesn’t relish seeing Palin in Congress?

But, of course, Begich voters didn’t vote for Palin for a reason, possibly because they really don’t like her.

As things stand (and there are, again, more votes to count), Palin would need to win the Begich split of votes 31,000-18,000 in order to pull even with Peltola. That’s about 63 percent, and it seems like a manageable number.

It’s hard to say who makes up Nick’s base of support. His own family is both supportive in a general sense and standoffish in a political sense.

When asked whether he would donate to Nick Begich’s congressional campaign, Tom Begich plainly responded, “Why would I do that? He’s a conservative Republican,” and added, “My nephew has never donated to any of my campaigns, which is disappointing.”

Nonetheless, many prominent Alaska Democrats have contributed to Nick either in this campaign or in his previous bid for a seat on the Anchorage Assembly. The moderate Begich brand may be stronger than the conservative pitch Nick has been making in 2022.

Then, again, Nick is a HAARP-lunatic and doubtless has many Alex Jones-style lunatic supporters. These folks’ second choice is probably Palin.

The non-lunatic in the race is Mary Peltola, who was profiled in the New York Times last week.

The woman leading the race to replace Representative Don Young after Tuesday’s electoral contests is in many ways his opposite: a Democrat with a reputation for kindness, even to the Republicans she is trying to beat.

On Election Day, Mary Peltola, 48, exchanged well wishes over text with her more famous and more outspoken Republican rival on the ballot, Sarah Palin. The two have been close since they were both expectant mothers working together in Alaska’s Statehouse, Ms. Palin as governor and Ms. Peltola as a lawmaker.

“I think respect is just a fundamental part of getting things done and working through problems,” Ms. Peltola told reporters Tuesday, explaining her approach to campaigning as the first vote tallies rolled in.

Ms. Peltola, who is Yup’ik, is seen as having the same independent streak and devotion to Alaskan interests as Mr. Young, who died in March. Her father and the longtime congressman were close friends, and, as a young girl, she would tag along as he campaigned for Mr. Young. But she sharply diverges from Mr. Young and her top Republican contenders, including Ms. Palin, in her support for abortion rights, her understanding of fishing industries, her clear warnings about climate change and her commitment to sustain communities over corporate interests in developing Alaska’s resources.

It would be nice if anyone other than Palin wins this race, but someone who acknowledges climate change and supports reproductive choice would be a real bonus.

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