Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski advanced from her primary with Kelly Tshibaka, her GOP rival endorsed by former President Donald Trump, while another Trump-backed candidate, Republican Sarah Palin, was among the candidates bound for the November general election in the race for Alaska’s only House seat.
Murkowski had expressed confidence that she would advance and earlier in the day told reporters that “what matters is winning in November.” Tshibaka called the results “the first step in breaking the Murkowski monarchy’s grip on Alaska.” Tshibaka also said she was thankful “for the strong and unwavering support President Trump has shown Alaska.”
A Murkowski has held the Senate seat since 1981. Before Lisa Murkowski, who has been in the Senate since late 2002, it was her father, Frank Murkowski.
Under a voter-approved elections process being used for the first time in Alaska elections this year, party primaries have been scrapped, and ranked-choice voting is being used in general elections. The top four vote-getters in a primary race, regardless of party affiliation, are to advance to the general election.
The other two places in the Senate race were too early to call.
Murkowski voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. Trump was acquitted. But he has had strong words for Murkowski, calling her “the worst” during a rally last month in Anchorage.
Murkowski said that if Tshibaka derives her sole strength from Trump’s endorsement, “what does that really say about her as a candidate with what she has to offer Alaska? Is it just that she will be a rubber stamp for Donald Trump? I don’t think that all Alaskans are really seeking that. Not the ones that I’m talking to.”
Kevin Durling, a co-chair of Tshibaka’s campaign, said Trump’s endorsement of Tshibaka was an added bonus for him. He said Tshibaka’s commitment to business and family and her values were important to him. He expressed frustration with Murkowski for the impeachment vote and for her support of the nomination of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
Democrat Mary Peltola, Palin, and Republican Nick Begich advanced to the November election in the House primary. It was too early to call the fourth spot. The winner of the November race will be elected to a two-year term.
Peltola, Begich, and Palin also competed in a special election to serve the remainder of the late-Rep. Don Young’s term, which ends early next year. Young died in March.