Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced today she will officially be running for reelection in 2022 in a video that styles her as an independent-minded Alaska-first politician willing to stand up to partisan interests (she’s still a Republican, in case you were wondering).
“In this election Lower 48 Outsiders are going to try to grab Alaska’s Senate seat for their partisan agenda,” she says during the video. “They don’t understand our state and, frankly, they couldn’t care less about your future.”
The announcement along with pretty much every other statement she’s made in recent months about the race casts shade at her far-right Trump-endorsed opponent: short-time Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka. Murkowski, who has long been a thorn in Trump’s side and voted to convict him during his second impeachment trial over the Jan. 6 insurrection, has become the focus of Trump’s ire. He pledged to endorse anyone with a “pulse” against her.
“This, apparently, is somebody with a pulse,” Murkowski said of Tshibaka in an interview with Politico earlier this year.
Tshibaka has largely parroted far-right talking points in opposing Murkowski, calling her “Joe Bidens’ Chief Enabling Officer Liberal Lisa” in widely mocked campaign video published today (seriously, check out all the quote tweets of it). Like many other diehard Trump supporters, Tshibaka has recently focused on Murkowski’s vote for the infrastructure package, which will bring some $3.5 billion in additional infrastructure spending to Alaska over the next five years and which every member of Alaska’s congressional delegation voted (making Alaska the only state whose Republicans delegation was all-in on the measure).
Murkowksi and the rest of the delegation has met the accusations head-on, arguing investments in infrastructure shouldn’t be viewed through a partisan lens.
“This is not about a win for Biden, or a win for the Democrats,” she said, according to the Anchorage Daily News. “This is about meeting our nation’s needs. And for those who, in my view, are going to be so petty that they would deny good, solid policy because they don’t want the person holding the keys to the White House today to be able to say they got that under their watch, what a shame on us that we’re not willing to put the priorities of the country first over the politics of this.”
So far, Murkowski has dominated the fundraising efforts for the U.S. Senate race. According to the latest financial reports with the Federal Election Commission, Murkowski has raised more than $4.5 million to Tshibaka’s $1.2 million. Murkowski also has considerably more cash on hand with $3.2 million to Tshibaka’s $294,000. The race stands to have heavy third-party spending (Midnight Sun publisher Jim Lottsfeldt is involved in one).
Republican pushback isn’t new for the moderate Murkowski, who was defeated in the 2010 Republican primary but ran a successful write-in campaign to win in the general election.
This race will have its own twists. It’ll be conducted in under the slate of new election measures approved by voters in the 2020 election. The measure does away with the semi-closed party primaries and, instead, puts all candidates into an open primary where the top four finishers advance to the general election regardless of their party affiliation. The general election, then, will be conducted with ranked choice voting to ensure the eventual winner has majority support from voters. Most view the plan as an advantage for Murkowski.
That election plan, it should be noted, rankled Tshibaka, who in since-deleted social media posts suggested that the efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election could be used to overturn the passage of the voter-approved initiative.