Alaska’s Murkowski, Tshibaka Advance to November After Near-Tie on Tuesday

Alaska's Murkowski, Tshibaka Advance to November After Near-Tie on Tuesday lisa murkowski looks on Sen. Lisa Murkowski participates in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee mark up, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on May 3. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

John Gizzi By John Gizzi Wednesday, 17 August 2022 07:25 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Conservatives and allies of former President Donald Trump came away pleased with the results Tuesday of Alaska's all-candidate U.S. Senate primary.

Having barely secured first place in the initial contest of 18 candidates, centrist Lisa Murkowski — the only Republican senator who supported Trump's impeachment to be on the ballot this year — is sure to be an even bigger target of Trump and angry conservatives in and out of Alaska.

With roughly 63% of the vote in, Murkowski was eking out a slight lead (42.4% to 41.8%) over Trump-endorsed former Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka. Democrat Patricia Chesbro came in third with 6.2%, meaning that she and a yet-to-be-determined candidate will advance to November under Alaska's new ranked-choice voting system.

For 20-year incumbent Murkowski, the unimpressive showing Tuesday was particularly embarrassing. Along with her seniority and record of winning four successive trips to the polls (including as a write-in candidate in 2010 after being denied renomination by Republicans), Murkowski, 65, is heiress to one of the most durable political names in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Father Frank Murkowski held the same Senate seat from 1980 until his election as governor in 2002 — whereupon he appointed Lisa to his seat.

"I am not at all surprised by the near-tie in Alaska," Dan Eberhardt, longtime Republican contributor and fund raiser, told Newsmax. "Murkowski has a strong base but has trouble decisively winning her races. Tshibaka is a proxy for Trump who runs very strong in Alaska."

Eberhardt, who raised considerable funds for Trump in 2020, supported Murkowski in her reelection bid.

With a lifetime score of 56.72% from the American Conservative Union, Murkowski is one of a handful of centrist Republicans left in Congress. Along with supporting Trump's impeachment, she voted against confirmation of Trump-named Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and for confirming Biden-named Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. She criticized the Supreme Court's Dobbs ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and has been censured by the GOP State Committee for her impeachment vote.

In November, Alaskans will determine whether Murkowski continues or Tshibaka goes to Washington. Under the ranked-choice rules, voters have the option to list their second choices for the Senate. Should none of the four candidates on the November ballot achieve a majority, then the fourth-placed candidate in the race is eliminated and his or her second choices are counted for the remaining three candidates. The process continues until one candidate has a majority of votes.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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