Alaska commissioner launches GOP challenge to Murkowski

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Greg Nash

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has her first Republican challenger in her 2022 reelection bid.

Alaska’s Commissioner of Administration Kelly Tshibaka announced Monday that she will mount a campaign to oust Murkowski, who has drawn the ire of former President Trump and his allies for voting to convict him in his second impeachment trial last month. 

“I am running for the Senate to represent our conservative Alaska values,” Tshibaka tweeted. “We’re going to defeat Lisa Murkowski and show the DC insiders what happens when Alaska has strong conservative leadership!”

Tshibaka is the first Republican to announce a Senate bid in Alaska ahead of next year’s midterm elections. Murkowski, who has served in the Senate since 2002, has filed to run for reelection next year, but has not yet announced a campaign. 

In her role as Alaska’s commissioner of administration, Tshibaka is in charge of a massive department whose work touches on everything from labor relations to the Division of Motor Vehicles. Prior to serving in Alaska’s state government, Tshibaka worked in the inspector general offices of several federal agencies.

Murkowski has faced tough primary opposition before. In 2010, she lost the Republican primary in her state to Tea Party-backed candidate Joe Miller. Despite that loss, she went on to win that year’s general election as a write-in candidate. 

The 2022 midterm election may prove difficult for Murkowski, though. Trump and his base of ultra-loyal voters are furious with the Alaska senator after she joined six of her Republican colleagues in the Senate in voting to convict Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

Trump himself has vowed to campaign against Murkowski in 2022, and the Alaska GOP voted earlier this month to censure their senior senator. 

Still, Senate Republican leaders, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have said they will back Murkowski next year. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has said that he will support GOP incumbents, despite Trump’s efforts to oust those whom he sees as disloyal to him.

Murkowski won’t face a party primary in 2022 as she has in past years. A voter initiative passed in November has done away with the state’s party primary system and replaces it with a system in which the top four vote-getters in an open primary advance to the general election. 

Tags 2022 midterm elections Alaska politics Alaska primary Alaska Senate Race Donald Trump Kelly Tshibaka Lisa Murkowski Mitch McConnell

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