Trump endorses Murkowski challenger

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE formally endorsed the top primary challenger to Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiBill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (R-Alaska) in a Friday statement, making good on his promise to go after the Alaska Republican over her repeated criticisms and vote to convict him in his impeachment trial earlier this year. 

In a statement disseminated by Trump’s leadership PAC Save America, the former president threw his support behind former Alaska Commissioner of Administration Kelly Tshibaka, casting her as a staunch supporter of his agenda.

“Murkowski has got to go!” proclaimed Trump.

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“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 our 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!”

Tshibaka is the only major primary opponent to Murkowski to announce a campaign thus far and touted Trump’s endorsement, saying his backing will help push her over the finish line in a primary.

“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,” she said in a statement.

Tshibaka is the only major primary opponent to Murkowski to announce a campaign thus far. She touted Trump’s endorsement on Friday, saying his backing will help push her over the finish line in a primary.

“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,” she said in a statement.

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While Murkowski has not yet formally launched a reelection campaign, she will be no electoral slouch if she runs for another term.

She lost the GOP primary in 2010 to a Tea Party-backed candidate but went on to win the general election as a write-in candidate.

However, she is expected to face an even more hostile Republican base in 2022 after angering Trump supporters with repeated criticisms of the former president. Murkowski repeatedly lambasted Trump’s character and said she did not vote for him in 2020. Those broadsides culminated in a vote to convict him earlier this year in his impeachment trial over his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Trump in June 2020 vowed to campaign against Murkowski, a promise that was made after the Alaskan told reporters she was "struggling" with how she would vote in the presidential race.

"Few people know where they’ll be in two years from now, but I do, in the Great State of Alaska (which I love) campaigning against Senator Lisa Murkowski," Trump tweeted at the time. "Get any candidate ready, good or bad, I don’t care, I’m endorsing. If you have a pulse, I’m with you!"

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Trump’s endorsement of Tshibaka puts him at odds with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the Senate GOP’s campaign arm.

The NRSC has a policy of backing all incumbent senators, though Trump has made no such commitment.

The former has already backed former White House aide Max Miller in his primary challenge against Rep. Anthony GonzalezAnthony GonzalezSix takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections Pro-impeachment Republicans outpace GOP rivals in second-quarter fundraising Governors' races see flood of pro-Trump candidates MORE (R-Ohio), who voted to impeach Trump in January. Trump has threatened to go after other lawmakers who criticized him, including Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Senators say they have deal on 'major issues' in infrastructure talks MORE (R-S.D.).

The NRSC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill regarding his endorsement of Tshibaka.