Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Friday that former President Donald Trump’s ultimatum to Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy — that he would only endorse Dunleavy for reelection if he agreed not to endorse Murkowski — was “weird” and has no bearing on her campaign plans.
“I did think that the conditional endorsement was actually very bizarre,” Murkowski said in an interview with The Alaska Landmine, a local political news site. “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
The Alaska senator said it’s ultimately Dunleavy’s prerogative to endorse whomever he wants, just as it is her prerogative to endorse whomever she would like.
“I think the difference is my endorsement is not for sale,” Murkowski said. “It’s just not.”
Dunleavy said last month that he accepted Trump’s conditional endorsement.
Trump wants to unseat Murkowski as punishment for being one of seven Republican senators — and the only one up for reelection in 2022 — who joined Democrats in voting to convict Trump for inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The twice-impeached former president is supporting Murkowski’s opponent Kelly Tshibaka, the former commissioner of Alaska’s Department of Administration under Dunleavy. Tshibaka is a frequent guest on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast, where she has said she would have voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
During Friday’s interview, Murkowski laughed with the host about a glaring typo in the statement Trump issued announcing his provisional support for Dunleavy. Trump referred to the acronym for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as “ANWAR,” versus “ANWR.”
“He has my Complete and Total Endorsement,” read Trump’s statement, sent by email from the former president’s political action committee, “but this endorsement is subject to his non-endorsement of Senator Lisa Murkowski who has been very bad for Alaska, including losing ANWAR, perhaps the most important drilling site in the world, and much else.”
“Did you see the press release? They spelled ANWR, AN W-A-R,” asked host Jeff Landfield.
“Like Anwar Sadat,” laughed Murkowski, referring to the former president of Egypt. “Whatever.”
“That’s very fitting,” said Landfield.
“It is,” said Murkowski.
In a sign of Trump’s continued grip on the GOP, the Alaska Republican State Central Committee endorsed Tshibaka after Murkowski’s impeachment vote. Murkowski was also censured by the Alaska Republican Party in March for her vote to convict Trump.
But the National Republican Senatorial Committee is backing Murkowski, as is the Senate Leadership Fund, a group aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Murkowski, who has been in the Senate since 2002, has overcome tough reelections in the past. In 2010, against the odds and with no support from the Republican Party, she won reelection as a write-in candidate. She was the first Senate candidate to pull this off since South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond in 1954.
She announced her latest run for reelection in November.