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The Alaska Republican Party endorsed Kelly Tshibaka over incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Saturday.
In a 58-17 vote, the party’s central committee approved the endorsement of Tshibaka, giving Alaska’s former commissioner of the Department of Administration an additional boost.
Former President Donald Trump endorsed Tshibaka after his long-fraught relationship with Murkowski disintegrated further over her decision to vote to convict the former president at his second impeachment trial earlier this year. Trump vowed to campaign against “a disloyal and very bad Senator” in March and announced he would not be endorsing the 20-year incumbent “under any circumstances.”
Murkowski was censured by her state party in March, with the Alaska Republicans agreeing to “recruit a Republican Party challenger to oppose and prohibit Senator Murkowski from being a candidate in any Republican primary.”
In a June statement announcing his support for her challenger, Trump slammed Murkowski for her vote to confirm Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who suspended drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
“Her vote to confirm Biden’s Interior Secretary was a vote to kill long sought for, and approved, ANWR, and Alaska jobs. Murkowski has got to go! Kelly Tshibaka is the candidate who can beat Murkowski — and she will,” Trump said. “Kelly is a fighter who stands for Alaska values and America First.”
Polling conducted by Change Research in May put Tshibaka at the front of the pack, with 39% support. Murkowski garnered 19% of support from those polled.
Murkowski is no stranger to difficult elections. She lost the Republican primary in 2010, forcing her to shift to a write-in candidacy. Despite not having her name on the ballot, the Alaska Republican won.
The political landscape next autumn will be shaped by Alaska’s adoption of ranked-choice voting. In November, the state abolished party primaries, and instead, the top four candidates in a “jungle primary” will be on a ranked-choice ballot. Polling projections give Tshibaka an 8-point victory over Al Gross, a candidate backed by Democrats.
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Original Author: Carly Ortiz-Lytle
Original Location: Alaska GOP endorses Trump-backed challenger to Murkowski