Lisa Murkowski and Kelly Tshibaka Advance in Alaska’s Senate Contest

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a centrist Republican seeking a fourth full term in Washington, advanced to the general election alongside her main rival, Kelly Tshibaka, in the primaries. to the state Senate, according to The Associated Press.

Ms. Murkowski and Ms. Tshibaka each earned enough votes to advance to the general election in the fall as part of the Alaska’s New Open Main System. Murkowski hopes to counter conservative backlash to her Senate vote to convict former President Donald J. Trump of inciting the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. .

With an estimated 50% of votes reported, Ms. Murkowski and Ms. Tshibaka are just over 40% each. The closest opponent after them are the single digits.

Ballots are still being counted and two other candidates will also advance as part of the state’s top four, but it’s unclear which two.

Murkowski, 65, was the only Senate Republican in this year’s vote to have voted to convict Mr. Trump in his impeachment trial. She has been outspoken about her frustrations with Mr. Trump’s hold on the Republican Party, even though she has maintained the team’s support in the Senate.

She has also crossed the aisle several times in favor of bipartisan compromises and Democratic candidates, including Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court and the confirmation of Secretary of the Interior. Deb Haaland case. And she’s one of only two Republicans in the Senate who support abortion rights and have expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court’s decision. overturned Roe v. Wadea move that eliminated the constitutional right to abortion after nearly 50 years.

Those stances rallied both domestic and local Republicans against her, and the vote to impeach her earned her criticism from the Republican Party of Alaska. Mr. Trump, angered by her vote to convict him, summoned his supporters to line up behind Ms. Tshibaka, a former commissioner in the Alaska Department of Public Administration who had cast herself as a candidate. America First”, who could more fully represent conservatives in the state.

“It is clear that we are at a point where the next senator can either stand with Alaska or continue to allow the pathetic Biden administration that is harming us more and more every day,” Tshibaka wrote in the letter. an opinion essay published a few days before the primary conference. “As I am Alaska’s next senator, I will never forget the Alaskans who elected me, and I will always support the values ​​of the people of this great state.”

But the new open primary system, combined with the use of ranked-choice voting in the general election, was designed in part with centrist candidates like Ms Murkowski, and is supported by her allies. in the country famous for independence.

Voters in November can rank their top four candidates. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, officials remove the finalist and reallocate supporters’ votes to the voters’ second choice until a candidate got more than 50% of the votes.

While she has never crossed that threshold in previous elections, Ms. Murkowski has overcome difficulties before: In 2010, she Memorable victory with a registration campaign after an amazing first loss to challenger Tea Party. That victory came largely through an alliance of Alaska Natives and centrists.

Murkowski leveraged her seniority and her bipartisan credentials to make her case to voters in Alaska, highlighting the billions of dollars she has contributed to the state through her role herself on the Senate Appropriations Committee and her role in passing $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure legislation. .

She appeals to her friendships with Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and the legacy of Alaskan legislators like former Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young, who died in Marchto show that there is still a place in Congress for her legislative style.

“You have to prove that there are other possibilities, that there is a different reality – and maybe it won’t work,” Ms. Murkowski said. in an interview this year. “Perhaps I was completely politically naive, and this ship has set sail. But I won’t know unless we – unless I – get out there and give Alaska a chance to balance. “

However, her challengers are looking to capitalize on frustration with Ms Murkowski on both sides. In addition to suggesting she is too liberal for the state, Ms Tshibaka has drawn smoldering outrage over how Ms Murkowski’s father, Frank, chose her. end of senatorial term when he became governor in 2002.

Alyce McFadden contribution report.

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