Alaska GOP endorses Murkowski primary challenger

The Alaska Republican Party endorsed GOP Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka on Saturday, breaking from longtime incumbent Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiEight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas moratorium The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Crunch time for bipartisan plan; first Jan. 6 hearing today MORE (Alaska).

The state party confirmed to The Hill that members approved the endorsement in a 58-17 vote.

Tshibaka said in a statement shared by her campaign team that she was “grateful and thrilled to have the strong support of the Alaska Republican Party,” which she said “voted overwhelmingly to endorse” her. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“We all share a unified goal: to promote the principles upon which our country and state were founded,” wrote Tshibaka, who resigned from her role as Alaska Department of Administration commissioner to launch her Senate campaign. 

“I have pledged that I will be true to our shared, conservative Alaska ideals and be a senator upon whom they can depend to make every decision based on what is best for our great state,” she added. 

Tshibaka, who also announced the endorsement on Twitter, went on to say that Alaska needs a senator who will “defend Alaska from the continued onslaught of the radical Biden administration” and “who will stand with Alaskans and not cozy up to the Washington, D.C. insiders.” 

“It is time for conservative leaders, with courage and common sense, to rise together across the nation,” she said. “I am honored to be endorsed as that candidate for Alaska.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

The latest endorsement for Tshibaka marks growing divisions in the GOP, indicating that the party is willing to move away from incumbents who have been critical of former President TrumpDonald TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE.

Murkowski, a moderate who has served almost 20 years in the upper chamber, voted to convict the former president during his second impeachment trial for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. 

The former president still maintains substantial sway over the GOP base, and several state Republican parties have taken action against lawmakers who voted for Trump's impeachment. 

Murkowski has yet to formally launch a 2022 reelection campaign, but she is likely to face complications due to her past criticism of Trump.  

Trump himself formally endorsed Tshibaka last month, fulfilling his promise made a year prior, after Murkowski told reporters she was "struggling" with how she would vote in the 2020 presidential election. 

Murkowski continued to attract the ire of Trump over her repeated condemnation of his unsupported claims of election fraud in the 2020 election, saying in the days after the Capitol attack that the House acted "appropriately" by voting to impeach him.

Last month, Trump said in a statement issued by his leadership PAC Save America, “Murkowski has got to go!”

“Kelly Tshibaka is the candidate who can beat Murkowski — and she will,” Trump said at the time. “Kelly is a fighter who stands for Alaska values and America First.”

He went on to say, “I look forward to campaigning in Alaska for Kelly Tshibaka. She has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

Updated at 8:00 p.m.