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Becky Bohrer
Associated Press 

An Alaska elections official said Tuesday that the fifth-place finisher in the special primary for Alaska’s U.S. House seat will not advance to an August special election following the withdrawal of independent Al Gross, who was in third place. 

That’s because the withdrawal happened less than 64 days before the scheduled Aug. 16 special election said Director Gail Fenumiai of the Division of Elections on June 21. In a letter to an attorney for Republican Nick Begich’s campaign, Fenumiai pointed to a provision of law laying out the timeline.

Fenumiai said Gross withdrew from the race Tuesday and that his name would be removed from the ballot for the top four candidates in the special general election.

Fenumiai urged anyone who disagrees with the decisions to “file suit immediately,” citing the timeline to print ballots for the special election.

Tara Sweeney's campaign announced it does not intend to contest the Division of Elections’ opinion. 

Gross, an orthopedic surgeon, was in third place in the June 11 special primary, behind former Gov. Sarah Palin and Begich, both Republicans, and ahead of Democrat Mary Peltola, Yup’ik, a former state lawmaker running as a Democrat.

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Gross was positioned to advance to the August special election as one of the top four vote-getters. But on Monday evening, he suddenly announced plans to end his campaign.

“Trust that I am making the right decision,” Gross said in a statement to supporters Tuesday.

The candidate currently in fifth place is Republican Tara Sweeney, Inupiaq. Her campaign on social media said Sweeney “is currently visiting an area of the state inaccessible by phone or email. When she returns, we’ll make a campaign update. Thank you for your patience and support!”

Here’s a list of the candidates, campaign and allies’ campaign donation amounts, and how many votes each candidate received in the special election primary. Information is from the Federal Election Commission and Alaska Division of Elections.

Alaska special election primary results, campaign donations


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ICT National Correspondent Joaqlin Estus contributed to this story.

Updated June 22 to show the response of the Tara Sweeney campaign to the Division of Elections' June 21 opinion.