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Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski took an outright lead in the race for U.S. Senate when the latest round of results was released Friday night, putting Alaska’s moderate senior senator 1,658 votes ahead of far-right Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka.
The results all but cement Murkowski’s victory, who came into the election the odds-on favorite but had lagged behind Tshibaka in first-place votes since election night. She now leads the Trump-endorsed Tshibaka 43.32-42.68.
Now, Murkowski will head into Wednesday’s ranked-choice voting tabulation with a lead and the expectation that she’ll receive a large portion of the 20% of the vote that went to Democrat Pat Chesbro. Tshibaka doesn’t have a similar pool of votes to count on with Republican Buzz Kelley—who suspended his campaign and endorsed Tshibaka—holds just 2.88% of the vote.
Fewer than 2,000 ballots remain to be counted, according to the latest statistics.
U.S. House Rep. Mary Peltola doesn’t have a candidate to her left that she can bank on for a reliable boost of votes, but she’s not likely to need one with a vote share that currently sits at 48.68%. She’ll need just a small share of the votes of the third- and fourth-place finishers to secure the outright majority needed to win a full term in the seat. In the special primary election, Peltola won nearly a third of the second-place votes of voters who ranked Republican Nick Begich III first.
Meanwhile, it looks like Gov. Mike Dunleavy—who’s been busy projecting a more moderate and competent second term—will avoid the RCV tabulation altogether with an outright majority (the tabulation still happens, technically, but it’s not going to knock him out of first place). His vote total has steadily dropped since election day, but it currently sits at 50.34% of the vote.
As an incumbent with tons of money, democrat votes, and McConnel’s backing, the fact that a neophyte gave her such a credible fight speaks volumes.