This week saw two House special elections 4,000 miles apart, both featuring unusual rules and circumstances. In Texas's 34th CD, Republican Mayra Flores became an overnight GOP star by flipping an 84 percent Hispanic Rio Grande Valley seat red, but faces tougher November odds thanks to redistricting. In Alaska, another former instant celebrity, Sarah Palin, advanced to the general election but could be hamstrung by Alaska's new top-four primary system.

Alaska's At Large District

In Alaska, Palin placed first in the Saturday 48-way, all-party primary to replace late GOP Rep. Don Young, taking 30 percent with most ballots counted so far. GOP software businessman Nick Begich III, the grandson of the Democrat who preceded Young in office, took second place with 19 percent. Independent Al Gross, whose 2020 Senate bid was endorsed by Democrats, took 12 percent and Democratic tribal activist Mary Peltola took seven percent.

Under Alaska's new "top four" system, Palin, Begich, Gross and Peltola advance to an August 16 runoff, decided by an instant ranked-choice vote. That means candidates will be eliminated one-by-one based on voters' ranked

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