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‘The Mayor of North Pole, Alaska is a Man Who Legally Changed His Name to Santa Claus … He’s Now Running for Congress Against Sarah Palin.’

Claim

"The mayor of North Pole, Alaska is a man who legally changed his name to Santa Claus, looks exactly like Santa Claus, and is also a big Bernie/M4A guy. He's now running for Congress against Sarah Palin."

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On April 12 2022 an Imgur user shared a screenshot of the following tweet about a purported candidate from Alaska challenging a full plate of hopefuls, including former governor Sarah Palin (R), for a seat in Congress:

Alongside two pictures — one where a visible name placard read “Santa Claus,” and another where the man held a “Medicare for All” sign — the text of the April 8 2022 tweet read:

The mayor of North Pole, Alaska is a man who legally changed his name to Santa Claus, looks exactly like Santa Claus, and is also a big Bernie/M4A guy. He’s now running for Congress against Sarah Palin.

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The post was popular on Imgur, but very popular on Twitter as well. However, searches for “Santa Claus” and “North Pole” were unlikely to immediately produce relevant news about the candidate.

On April 9 2022, one day after the tweet appeared, the Anchorage Daily News published “Santa is running. And Santa’s serious.” It began by reporting information that matched the content of the tweet:

The 48 candidates for Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat include an ex-governor [Palin], a doctor, a professor, a gardener, a few lawyers and fishermen. But no figure is more recognizable than Santa Claus.

This particular Santa’s personal history is not a regular Christmas tale. He is a monk who took a vow of poverty, serves on the North Pole city council and agrees with most of what Bernie Sanders has to say. But with a white beard, round appearance and soft-spoken demeanor, he looks and sounds like the real deal.

Behind the name and appearance is a man with a detailed campaign platform that some say gives him a fighting chance at capturing one of the top four spots in the special June 11 [2022] primary needed to advance to the general election in August [2022]. And befitting his name, Claus is taking an unconventional approach to running for office.

He says he will spend no more than $400 of his own money on the campaign. He is running as an independent, uninterested in toeing a party line. He is not accepting donations, not planning any in-person events — at 74, he is worried about COVID-19 …

The article later added:

The only other candidate in the race whose name recognition rivals Santa’s is former Gov. Sarah Palin, who elicits strong emotions ranging from adoration to detestation and is widely seen as one of the most famous — or infamous — Alaskans in the history of the state.

On April 1 2022, KXTV’s “Sarah Palin and Santa Claus file to run for Congress from Alaska” primarily reported about Palin’s candidacy. The article also contextualized the special election, and explained Santa Claus’ candidacy came before Palin’s:

Sarah Palin on Friday [April 1 2022] shook up an already unpredictable race for Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat, joining a field of 50 other candidates seeking to fill the seat held for decades by the late-U.S. Rep. Don Young, who died [on March 18 2022] … Palin, a former Alaska governor who was the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, has the biggest national political profile in the packed field that includes current and former state legislators and a North Pole city council member named Santa Claus.

A viral tweet claimed that the “mayor of North Pole, Alaska is a man who legally changed his name to Santa Claus, looks exactly like Santa Claus, and is also a big Bernie/M4A guy,” and was “running for Congress against Sarah Palin.” News reports validated the tweet’s claims — the man in question was named “Santa Claus,” he served as mayor of North Pole, Alaska, and he espoused many of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ positions (such as support for Medicare for All). Palin entered the race on April 1 2022, and is vying for the same seat left vacant following Rep. Don Young’s death in March 2022.