Santa Claus of North Pole, Alaska, Is Running Against Sarah Palin and Others for Open House Seat

"Being a Bernie supporter, we have disparate views," Claus says of Palin

Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska, speaks during the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Friday, July 1, 2016. Santa Claus of North Pole, Alaska, Is Running Against Sarah Palin for Open House SeatRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump is looking to project party unity in the Hamptons next week, when he'll huddle with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus at a fundraiser featuring top donors to some of his former rivals.
Sarah Palin (left), Santa Claus. Photo: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty; Santa Claus for Alaska/Twitter

Among the many challengers in Sarah Palin's race for an Alaska congressional seat is another candidate with a famous — if unlikely — name: Santa Claus.

Last month, the ex-Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate announced that she was running for Congress, joining the pool of dozens of candidates hoping to fill the seat held for decades by Rep. Don Young, who died in March.

The potential legislators include a man legally named Santa Claus, who has a long white beard and lives, naturally, in the North Pole.

As he explained to The Guardian in a story published last week, Claus changed his name from Tom O'Connor in 2005 after, he said, he was praying for guidance and pondered what to do with his life, having left behind a career in law enforcement.

As fate would have it, someone shouted at him, "Santa, I love you!" and he made the decision then and there.

"That's about as fast an answer to your prayer as I'd probably ever get," Claus told The Guardian. "So next day, I called up the county clerk to change my name legally."

Claus has no party affiliation but admits that he has a very different political outlook than Palin: "Let me put it this way: being a Bernie supporter, we have disparate views on a variety of subjects," he told The Guardian.

Win or lose, Claus told the paper (with tongue firmly in cheek) that he won't exactly be busy come Christmastime.

"There are plenty of my beloved helpers throughout the world who sort of stand in for me with their in-person visits," he said, adding that he hoped instead "to interact more with adults with respect to legislation."

This is Palin's first bid for office since she left politics in 2009 when she resigned as governor of Alaska; she was previously the mayor of Wasilla. She publicly weighed a run for president in 2012 but decided against it.

Palin, who also launched a career as a conservative TV personality, has already earned an early boost in in a very crowded field from former President Donald Trump.

In a statement announcing her own candidacy last month, she said: "Public service is a calling, and I would be honored to represent the men and women of Alaska in Congress, just as Rep. Young did for 49 years. I realize that I have very big shoes to fill, and I plan to honor Rep. Young's legacy by offering myself up in the name of service to the state he loved and fought for, because I share that passion for Alaska and the United States of America."

A special primary election for her state's only seat in the House of Representatives is scheduled for June 11, followed by a general election on Aug. 16.

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