Murkowski wins the Alaska race for the US Senate

Lisa Murkowski
Lisa Murkowski greets supporters during her election night party In November. 8 In downtown Anchorage. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

US Senator Lisa Murkowski defeated a conservative challenger to win re-election, defying former President Donald Trump’s promise to make her pay to vote to convict him in his second impeachment.

With Wednesday’s ranked picks table, Murkowski has 53.7% of the vote. Kelly Chebacka, the candidate endorsed by Trump, has 46.3%. Murkowski’s total jumped once he eliminated Democrat Pat Chesbro. After that, her supporters overwhelmingly supported her.

“Thank you, Alaska,” Murkowski said in a statement. “I am honored that Alaskans — of all regions, backgrounds, and party affiliations — have once again given me their confidence to continue working with them and on their behalf in the United States Senate. I look forward to continuing the important work that lies ahead.”

Murkowski was already leading after only first-choice votes were counted in the November 8 election. Prior to the elimination round, Murkowski had received 43.4% of the vote to Chebaka’s 42.6%.

The result of the election is a defeat for the hardline Republicans. Chebaka tends to label political opponents “leftists” and “extremists”. I allied with Trump, supporting his denial of the election.

Kelly Chebaca speaks to reporters during her election night party In November. 8 in Anchorage. (Elisa Loughlin / Alaska Public Media)

In a lengthy statement on Wednesday, Tshibaka congratulated Murkowski on her win. But she also had stinging criticisms of the “disastrous Biden administration,” Washington insiders, and the new ranked-choice voting system she called an “incumbent protection program.”

“I love this state with all my heart because of its limitless potential and because of the resilient, compassionate, and fiercely loyal people who call it home,” she said. “I will continue to fight for Alaska and for us, the people, but I will take some time to think about what that might look like.”

Chipka also thanked Trump and God.

The election was also a referendum on Murkowski’s moderate Republican style, which includes supporting abortion rights and working with Democrats to pass major infrastructure bills. It’s a style that has become so rare in a polarized political world that some Republicans say she’s not a Republican at all, and the times she voiced Trump distanced her from the Alaska Republican base.

Murkowski would almost certainly have lost to Chebaka in the traditional caucus primary. But this year, for the first time, candidates from all parties appeared on the same ballot. The top four front-runners advanced to the November 8 ballot: Murkowski, Chebacca, Chesbro and Buzz Kelly.

Kelly dropped out in September and endorsed Chebaka. His name was still on the ballot, and with 2.9% of the first-choice vote, he was the first candidate eliminated. His supporters preferred Tshibaka to Murkowski.

The new system, which Alaskan voters adopted in 2020, favors moderate candidates and gives political parties less control. This worked in Murkowski’s favor as well, with the State Party blaming her and supporting Chebaka.

Murkowski also had the benefits of incumbent. She has served as one of two senators from Alaska since 2002, appointed by her father. This election season, her campaign raised $10 million, more than double Tshibaka’s total.

Murkowski got the help of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. His political action committee has poured millions into the race, most of it funding attack ads for Tshibaka.

Chebaka, a Harvard-trained attorney who has served in oversight positions at several federal agencies in Washington, D.C., called McConnell’s move an “utter sacrilege of democracy.”

“The Alaska Republicans said Lisa Murkowski is not our Republican choice,” she told reporters last month. “McConnell comes in with millions and millions of dollars out of Alaska saying no, she’s the one she’s going to choose, against the will of the people of Alaska. That’s fundamentally un-American.”

After election day, Chebaka said she was raising money for a potential legal battle over the outcome. Her campaign did not raise that possibility publicly on Wednesday.

Related stories:

Beltula won Alaska’s race for the U.S. House of Representatives by 10 points

Alaska Governor Dunleavy re-elected

The last number of votes cast in the general election ranked first in Alaska

Missed the ranked pick vote? watch now.

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