Senator Lisa Murkowski has won re-election in Alaska, NBC News reported Wednesday, handing former President Donald Trump another defeat in what has largely been a miserable midterm cycle for his hand-picked candidates in competitive races in the Senate.
Murkowski, one of seven Republicans to vote to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, survived a challenge by Kelly Tshibaka, endorsed by Trump, a former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration.
“I am honored that Alaskans — of all regions, backgrounds, and political affiliations — have once again placed their trust in me to continue to work with them and on their behalf in the U.S. Senate,” Murkowski said. tweeted Wednesday evening. “I look forward to continuing the important work ahead of us.”
Murkowski’s re-election came in the state first Senate contest to be decided by a priority vote.
Rather than limiting voters to a single choice, the format allows candidates to be ranked in order of preference. Neither Murkowski nor Tshibaka, the two-vote top scorers in the first round of the Nov. 8 general election, had a majority after the top picks were tabulated, triggering ballots on Wednesday in which ballots listing the eliminated candidates were reallocated to the voter’s next choices.
Murkowski, Tshibaka, Democrat Patricia Chesbro and Republican Buzz Kelley all emerged from a nonpartisan primary in August. Kelley then dropped out and endorsed Tshibaka, but he remained on the ballot. Wednesday’s runoff began with second-choice votes from those who preferred the final Kelley spot to be dispersed among the three remaining candidates. Chesbro was eliminated next, and second-choice votes from its ballots helped push Murkowski over the threshold.
From the outset, the race largely centered on the two leading Republicans and their relationship with Trump.
Tshibaka, for example, had made waves when she vowed not to back another Trump foil, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for another term as GOP leader in the Senate if elected.
Murkowski became a target for the right after emerging as a rare Republican public servant willing to criticize Trump and ultimately condemn him for what she believed was his incitement to the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The Republican Party of Alaska censored it. and Trump started calling it the “Alaska disaster,” eventually backing Tshibaka to challenge it.
Murkowski is also known for her moderate profile in the Senate and her willingness to work with Democrats. She was one of only three Republicans to vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in April. She also stood up to her party in other big votes under the Trump administration, voting with Democrats and a handful of other Republicans to block GOP attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In a recent campaign ad summarizing his closing plea, Murkowski promised to “work with anyone, from either side, to advance Alaska’s priorities.”
Proponents of ranked voting, a system that gained national attention for its use in New York’s mayoral election last year, believe the setup benefits moderate candidates who don’t play with the fringe of either party and work the hardest to attract the widest group of people.
In the race for Alaska’s seat in the House of Representatives, incumbent Mary Peltola, a Democrat, was elected to a full two-year term, beating Republican Sarah Palin, the former governor and running mate. -presidency, according to NBC News.
Peltola had already made history in August, becoming the first Native Alaskan to serve in Congress after winning the special election to replace longtime GOP Rep. Don Young, who died in March at the age of 88 years old. Young and the GOP had controlled the seat for nearly five decades before his victory.
Zoe Richards contributed.