Kelly Tshibaka and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) advanced from Alaska’s open primary Tuesday, setting up a Republican Party proxy war in the ranked-choice general election contest.
Murkowski, who voted to convict former President Donald J. Trump on impeachment charges, is backed by establishment Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell. With 69 percent of the votes reported on Wednesday morning, she secured 66,288 votes, or 43.7 percent, according to the Associated Press election results compiled by the New York Times. Trump-backed Tshibaka is right behind Murkowski, with 61,225 votes, or 40.4 percent.
Two other candidates will advance to the general, though it has not yet been declared which two. Democrat Patricia Chesbro sat in third place Wednesday with just 6.2 percent of the vote, followed by Republican Buzz Kelley at 2.2 percent.
Tshibaka highlighted the process of the ranked-choice election system in an interview on Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Saturday over the weekend.
“In November, what happens is everyone gets to go in and vote for their top candidate first – if you want, you get to vote for a backup candidate or two back-up candidates or three – so you rank your second, third, and fourth choice,” she explained. “If the candidate that comes in first doesn’t cross the 50% line – get at least half the votes in the election – then the fourth candidate drops off. Their second, third, and fourth place votes get reallocated. The third candidate drops off, their second, third, and fourth place votes get reallocated.”
She also took a swipe at Murkowski.
“She doesn’t tell us the truth. She says one thing here in Alaska and then does the exact opposite in D.C.,” Tshibaka said. “She’ll talk about writing the infrastructure bill with Bernie Sanders, but she won’t tell us that the radical extremists in the Biden administration are piling up all these new regulations on us [in the bill].
Murkowski has been a vocal critic of Trump, and her vote to convict him on impeachment charges resulted in the Alaska Republican Party censuring her in March 2021, as the Associated Press noted at the time:
“The party does not want Lisa Murkowski to be a Republican candidate,” said Tuckerman Babcock, immediate past chairman of the state party.
The vote to censure Murkowski was 53-17 at a Saturday meeting in Anchorage, he said. The decision has not been publicly announced by the party.“It went further than censure, which was strong,” Babcock said. “But it also directed the party officials to recruit an opponent in the election and to the extent legally permissible, prevent Lisa Murkowski from running as a Republican in any election,” he said.
In June 2021, Trump announced his endorsement of Tshibaka, stating that “Murkowski has got to go!”
At a Save America rally in Alaska last month, Trump blasted Murkowski.
“She’s a total creature of the Washington swamp, but much worse than that, and a tool of a corrupt establishment the likes of which we’ve never seen. The fake news media loves her,” Trump said.
“This is your precious chance to dump the horrific RINO Senator Lisa Murkowski, who’s worse than a Democrat. She’s worse than a Democrat,” he stated.