U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, has won reelection by defeating Kelly Tshibaka, a Republican opponent backed by Donald Trump. On November 8, Murkowski defeated Tshibaka in the ranked-choice election.
Election officials tallied the ranked-choice results and announced the results on Wednesday after discovering that neither candidate had received more than 50% of the first-choice votes.
After ranked-choice voting, Murkowski received 54% of the vote, picking up the majority of the votes cast for Democrat Pat Chesbro after she was defeated.
Murkowski said in a statement: “I am honored that Alaskans — of all regions, backgrounds, and party affiliations — have once again given me their confidence to continue working with them and on their behalf in the U.S. Senate.
I’m looking forward to continuing the crucial work that lies ahead.
Tshibaka praised Murkowski in a statement on her website, but she criticized ranked-choice voting.
Many Alaskans have expressed frustration with the new electoral system because it was definitely intended to protect the incumbents and it clearly accomplished that goal.
Republican Buzz Kelley was also running, but he withdrew after the August primary and supported Tshibaka.
The only Republican senator on the ballot this year who supported Trump’s impeachment last year was Murkowski. Trump wasn’t found guilty. However, the former president took offense to her vote and vowed to run an oppositional campaign against her.
Before the 2020 election and well before Tshibaka entered the race for the Senate, Trump declared his intention to run an oppositional campaign against Murkowski: “Get any candidate ready; I don’t care if they’re excellent or awful; I’m endorsing. I’m with you if you’ve got a heartbeat, buddy!
He showed up at a rally in Anchorage in July in support of Sarah Palin and Tshibaka, both of whom are running for Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat. In late October, he took part in a tele-rally in support of Tshibaka. Tshibaka, who led the Alaska Department of Administration for two years before working in federal inspector’s general offices, credited Trump with helping to increase her name recognition and support her candidacy.
Murkowski paid little attention to Trump during the campaign, emphasizing her willingness to work across party lines and focusing on her record and seniority. Murkowski was censured by state Republican party leaders last year for crimes that included her impeachment vote. After the passing in March of Republican Rep. Don Young, who served Alaska’s congressional delegation for 49 years, Murkowski, a centrist who has been in the Senate since 2002, is the delegation’s oldest member.
Murkowski has faced challenging reelection campaigns before. In 2010, she defeated a tea party Republican in the party primary and went on to win a write-in campaign for the general election. She had never won a general election with more than 50% of the vote before this contest.
Elections this year were conducted under a new system authorized by voters in 2020, which introduced ranked voting in general elections and replaced party primaries with open ones. The top four vote-getters in an open primary, regardless of party affiliation, move on to the general election. Tshibaka claimed in her statement following the election that “the Alaska U.S. Senate election turned out to be another success for the Washington, D.C. insiders who rarely have our best interests at heart.”
Tshibaka blasted a super PAC associated with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for running advertisements against her, claiming that those funds could have been used to support Republicans in other states.
She claimed that, aside from the Senate race, she “ranked the red,” or the Republican candidates, on her ticket. She affirmed that Murkowski was not a “red” candidate in her eyes.
On election day, Murkowski declared, “I didn’t vote for her either.”