Rebecca Downs, On Friday, former President Donald Trump endorsed Kelly Tshibaka in her primary challenge against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), as Suzanne Downing reported for Must Read Alaska. Tshibaka was the Alaska commissioner of administration until she resigned her position on March 29 to declare her candidacy.
“Lisa Murkowski is bad for Alaska. Her vote to confirm Biden’s Interior Secretary was a vote to kill long sought for, and approve, ANWR, and Alaska jobs. Murkowski has got to go! Kelly Tshibaka is the candidate who can beat Murkowski — and she will. Kelly is a fighter who stands for Alaska values and America First.
She is MAGA all the way, pro-energy, strong on the Border, tough on Crime and totally supports our Military and great Vets. Kelly is a powerful supporter of the Second Amendment and JOBS! I look forward to campaigning in Alaska for Kelly Tshibaka. She has my Complete and Total Endorsement!,” Trump said in his statement.
Tshibaka was quick to celebrate the news over social media.
🚨 HUGE NEWS! 🚨
Our campaign for US Senate was just ENDORSED by President Trump!
— Kelly Tshibaka (@KellyForAlaska) June 18, 2021
A press release from her campaign read:
“I am honored, excited, and grateful to have the support of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. To have his strong endorsement is great news for our campaign and even better news for the people of Alaska, because it means we will be getting our Senate seat back from Lisa Murkowski.
“President Trump won Alaska by double digits twice because his leadership and policies made him the best president our state has ever known. He knows our Alaska values, knows that we must be free to tap into our vast natural resources, and knows that we ought to be able to chart our own course without constant, authoritarian interference from Washington, D.C.
“Lisa Murkowski’s career is in its twilight now, and it’s because of her own record. She inherited her position from her father and since has become a senator for the D.C. insiders, rather than the people she’s supposed to represent. She opposed President Trump in both 2016 and 2020, proving definitively that she has no idea what Alaskans need or want. President Trump recognizes this, and an overwhelming majority of Alaskans do as well. I thank President Trump for his confidence in our campaign and look forward to victory next November with him on our team.”
Trump and Murkowski have been at odds for years, though the tension has been particularly notable these past few months. The senator voted to convict the former president in his second impeachment trial, after which he had already left office.
In March, Trump committed to endorsing a Murkowski challenger. In April he released a statement commenting on a primary race for Murkowski and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).
Former President Donald Trump weighs in on the potential primary battles facing Liz Cheney and Lisa Murkowski. pic.twitter.com/O1iDiDYiDR
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) April 14, 2021
Even before earning Trump’s endorsement, Tshibaka has shown to be a strong supporter of his.
Tshibaka often reminds voters that Trump easily won the state in 2016 and 2020, as she also did in the press release statement above. Many aspects of her campaign also touch upon an “America First” concept.
I’ll never apologize for standing up for our America First Conservative values of being Pro-Life and Pro-2nd Amendment. I’m proud to raise my 5 children with those same values. pic.twitter.com/glgyStEeog
— Kelly Tshibaka (@KellyForAlaska) June 17, 2021
The primary election is still over a year away, on August 16, 2022. Alaska’s ranked choice voting system is also in the news, as it is new this year. The Washington Post published an opinion column by Henry Olsen on Thursday, speculating “How Democrats could win Alaska’s Senate seat thanks to ranked-choice voting.”
However, Alaska is considered “solid Republican” by The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections, and “safe Republican” by Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, meaning the GOP has “a clear edge and the race is not competitive,” according to Ballotpedia’s race ratings.