On Senator's Side, GOP Brass. In Challenger's Corner, Trump

Alaska's Murkowski launches 2022 reelection campaign, with Trump endorsee Tshibaka looming
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2021 6:00 AM CST
Murkowski Launches 2022 Run, With a Trump Pick Looming
US Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, speaks to reporters after filing for reelection on Friday at the Division of Elections office in Anchorage, Alaska.   (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

(Newser) – Only one of seven Republican senators who found Donald Trump guilty in his second impeachment trial is up for reelection in 2022, and she's now officially made her bid, with a challenger who's been endorsed by the former president. Lisa Murkowski filed on Friday to run for her fourth full term serving the state of Alaska, in what the New York Times says will likely be "the most expensive and challenging race of her political career." "I'm running for reelection to continue the important work of growing our economy, strengthening our Alaska-based military, and protecting our people and the natural beauty of our state," Murkowski says in a campaign video. "I will work with anyone from either party to advance Alaska's priorities."

The Times notes that Murkowski indeed holds sway with both Republicans and Democrats and has often found herself as an important swing vote. That probably won't be the case with fellow GOPer Kelly Tshibaka, the former head of the Alaska Department of Administration who's received Trump's thumbs-up as a primary candidate, perpetuated debunked theories of widespread fraud in the 2020 election as Trump has, and hired ex-Trump campaign staffers. Murkowski, who has the support of establishment Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, doesn't mention Tshibaka by name in her campaign ad, but she does acknowledge the fight she's about to have to keep her seat.

"In this election, lower 48 outsiders are going to try to grab Alaska's Senate seat for their partisan agendas," Murkowski notes. "They don't understand our state and frankly, they couldn't care less about your future." Politico notes Murkowski has a much bigger coffer than Tshibaka ($3 million at her disposal as of October, to Tshibaka's $300,000), and a new ranked-choice voting system for Alaskan primaries will shield her from a direct faceoff with Tshibaka.

Murkowski has also faced challenging runs before: In 2010, for example, a Tea Partier emerged victorious in the Alaskan primary, but Murkowski won reelection to her Senate seat as a write-in candidate. But NBC News notes that Trump won Alaska in 2020 by 10 percentage points, and he has made it one of his goals to unseat the incumbent senator. "Lisa Murkowski is bad for Alaska," he said in June, per the Times. "Murkowski has got to go." (Read more Lisa Murkowski stories.)

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