Skip to Content

Republican Kelly Tshibaka launches Senate campaign against Lisa Murkowski

Getty Images

Republican Kelly Tshibaka, a former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner, launched her Senate campaign on Monday against Sen. Lisa Murkowski, pitching the election as an outsider versus a powerful, longtime insider.

“We know what Washington, DC thinks about Alaska: We’re here for their benefit; we’re not going to put up much of a fight,” said Tshibaka in a video. “After about 20 years in DC, Lisa Murkowski thinks the same way.”

Murkowski, a Republican moderate on issues like abortion, has beat back candidates from the right before. Her father, former Gov. Frank Murkowski, appointed her to his old Senate seat in 2002, and she won the office in 2004, and in 2010, when she lost the GOP primary to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller but then waged a rarely successful write-in campaign. She then won reelection in 2016 by 15 points.

In 2022, Murkowski may benefit from a new system, where candidates run together in a nonpartisan primary, and the top four finishers advance to the general election, in which voters rank their preferences.

But Murkowski’s criticisms of former President Donald Trump, including her vote to convict him in the second impeachment trial for inciting the January 6 riot at the Capitol, could make her vulnerable to another conservative challenger. The senator did not vote for the former President in 2020 and told The Hill she wrote in someone else who lost.

Earlier this month, Trump said that he planned to campaign against Murkowski, calling her “a disloyal and very bad Senator.” The Alaska Republican Party also censured her in a resolution following the impeachment vote, and said it would “recruit” a Republican challenger. It was unclear Monday if Tshibaka had been asked to run by the party, although the Alaska GOP tweeted out a line from a Fox News story announcing her bid. CNN has reached out to the Alaska GOP for comment on Tshibaka’s campaign.

It’s clear, however, that Tshibaka will try to exploit a Trump-inspired backlash against Murkowski, after hiring National Public Affairs, a political consulting firm run by Trump’s top 2020 strategists, and Line Drive Public Affairs’ Tim Murtaugh, Trump’s former campaign communications director, according to people familiar (Politico first reported the hires). Alaska operative Mary Ann Pruitt, who worked on the 2016 Murkowski campaign, is also advising Tshibaka’s bid .

In her video, Tshibaka called Murkowski “so out of touch” for voting “to remove Donald Trump from office, even after he was already gone.” Trump won Alaska by 10 points in 2020.

Before joining Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration, Tshibaka worked in the offices of the inspector general for the US Postal Service, Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice. Tshibaka acknowledged she worked in Washington, DC but “fought to expose waste and fraud in government,” seeking to draw a contrast with Murkowski’s extensive experience in the Capitol.

Murkowski filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on March 9 but has been somewhat coy about her 2022 intentions. A spokeswoman for Murkowski did not respond to request for comment.

The senator has retained the support of other top Republicans besides Trump, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who recently said he will “absolutely” support Murkowski.

Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan said Sunday on ABC that he’d support Murkowski too, “if” she runs again.

This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content