U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is now neck-and-neck with Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka in Tuesday’s vote count update from the Alaska Division of Elections.
U.S. House Rep. Democrat Mary Peltola is still far ahead of Republican rival Sarah Palin. Republican Nick Begich remains in third place.
So far, only first-choice votes have been counted. None of the congressional candidates appear on track to cross the 50% threshold. That means the House and Senate race outcome will depend on the second and third rankings. They’ll be tabulated on Nov. 23.
The first updates of the week added about 27,000 votes to the total. Ballots counted Tuesday included absentee, questioned, and early votes from many Anchorage districts, Fairbanks, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, and the central Kenai Peninsula.
Tshibaka now has 43.34% to Murkowski’s 43.11% of first-choice votes. The gap between them has shrunk dramatically. Murkowski is behind by only 565 votes, down from 3,000. If Murkowski doesn’t pull ahead in the next update this week, she’ll likely make that up when Democrat Pat Chesbro is eliminated and her 24,000 ballots transferred to the voter’s second choice.
A large share of Chesbro voters are believed to have ranked Murkowski second, preferring her moderate position on abortion rights and willingness to work with Democrats.
Tshibaka is endorsed by former President Donald Trump and faults Murkowski for cooperating across the aisle and for being part of the “establishment.”
Peltola has 48.13% of the vote in the House race, a slight increase from the last count on Nov. 10. Palin has 26% and Begich has nearly 24%.
Peltola and Palin both left Alaska shortly after the Nov. 8 election. Peltola has returned to Washington, D.C., where she is serving out the term of the late Alaska Congressman Don Young.
Palin signed autographs at a sports card expo in Toronto on Saturday with her boyfriend, former National Hockey League player Ron Duguay.