“Kelly Tshibaka is the candidate who can beat Murkowski – and she will. Kelly is a fighter who stands for the values of Alaska and America First, ”added Trump.
Trump also said he looks forward to promoting Tshibaka in Alaska. Tshibaka launched its offer in March, dropping several alums from Trump’s 2020 campaign to depose the GOP senator.
Trump has already supported several Republicans in open races that see GOP senators retiring. But this is his first endorsement of a candidate attempting to oust an incumbent Republican senator. This could be a headache for Republicans looking to win back a majority in the Senate.
Murkowski was one of Trump’s most vocal Republican critics, and the former president vowed to oppose her re-election after voting for a conviction as part of his impeachment trial in February. She was the only Republican standing for re-election next year who voted to convict Trump.
A spokesman for the Senate National Republican Committee did not comment, but cited the committee’s prior approval of Murkowski. The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that works with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, also supported Murkowski in April. A Murkowski spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Intraparty challenges are not a new hurdle for Murkowski. She lost a GOP key challenge in 2010, but launched a historic campaign for parliamentary elections and won another term. In 2016 she won a much less dramatic re-election.
The Alaska race will be an intricate test of Murkowski’s support in the state. Alaska has implemented a ranked voting system where all candidates run in a primary and the top four advance to the general election where voters rate their preferences.