Buzz Kelley Drops Senate Bid, Endorses Kelly Tshibaka in Alaska 

Republic candidate for Alaska’s U.S. Senate seat Buzz Kelley suspended his campaign Sept
Campaign photo

Former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Buzz Kelley suspended his campaign on Monday and threw his support behind Trump-endorsed Kelly Tshibaka.

The endorsement comes at a key time during the Senate race. With Alaska’s ranked choice voting system, candidates dropping from the November election and backing Tshibaka’s challenge to the 21-year incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will greatly increase Tshibaka’s chances of victory.

Kelley, who finished in fourth place in the August primary and advanced to the general election, endorsed Tshibaka on Dan Fagan’s show on News Radio 650 KENI.

“I am suspending my campaign and I’m asking all those who supported me and/or my ideas, if you would now please throw your support behind Kelly Tshibaka,” Kelley said. “She is our best bet to deny Murkowski.”

Tshibaka responded to the endorsement by thanking Kelley for his support and slamming Murkowski. “I am grateful and honored to have Buzz Kelley’s support and agree with his conclusion that presenting a unified front gives us the best opportunity to beat Lisa Murkowski,” Tshibaka said in a press release.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA - JULY 09: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka (L) stands on stage with former U.S. President Donald Trump (R) during a "Save America" rally at Alaska Airlines Center on July 09, 2022 in Anchorage, Alaska. Former President Donald Trump held a "Save America" rally in Anchorage where he campaigned with U.S. House candidate former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka stands on stage during a “Save America” rally at Alaska Airlines Center on July 09, 2022 in Anchorage, Alaska. (Justin Sullivan/Getty)

Tshibaka’s campaign has received positive news in recent days. Last week, Edgar Blatchford, a former U.S. Senate Democrat candidate, endorsed Tshibaka after bowing out of the race. The endorsement could mitigate some of the Democrat support Murkowski needs to defeat the challenger.

“With both Buzz Kelley’s support and the endorsement of former Democratic candidate Edgar Blatchford as well, it’s clear that Alaskans from across the spectrum are uniting behind our campaign, ” Tshibaka said.

On Monday, polling showed Tshibaka is tied Murkowski. The poll took into account Alaska’s ranked-choice voting system. The poll suggests that Murkowski’s best chance of defeating Tshibaka is Democrat voters, who could vote for Murkowski as the ranked-choice system advances. The way Alaska’s ranked-choice general election and open primary system, instituted in 2020, works is as follows:

All candidates from all parties appear on the ballot together in the August primary. The top four vote-getters regardless of party then advance to the general election, and their voters are given the opportunity to pick their top choice, as well as their second and third choices. If no candidate in the first round of voters’ first choices gets 50 percent of the vote, the last place candidate’s second choices are distributed across the remaining three candidates to see if someone can get across the majority threshold. If that fails again to produce a majority vote-getter, then a third round is conducted where the third place candidate’s votes are redistributed according to second choices between the remaining two candidates.

The general election is on November 8.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.


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