Kelly Tshibaka, an Alaska official who on Monday launched a challenge against Sen. Lisa Murkowski, is backed by former aides to President Donald Trump in a race that could prove a test of his appeal agaist the GOP establishment.
Tim Murtaugh, the former communication director for Trump’s reelection campaign, Bill Stepien, Trump’s former campaign manager, Justin Clark, Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, and Nick Trainer, Trump’s former battleground states director, are all involved in Tshibaka’s campaign through their consulting firms. Stepien, Clark, and Trainer started a firm called National Public Affairs after the election.
Tshibaka paired her campaign announcement this week with a slickly produced video that featured a lengthy attack on what she characterized as Murkowski’s Washington insider status, cut with images of her walking across what appeared to be a glacier.
Trump vowed to campaign against Murkowski after she joined with a small number of Senate Republicans in voting to convict him during his second impeachment trial earlier this year.
“I do not know where other people will be next year, but I know where I will be — in Alaska campaigning against a disloyal and very bad Senator,” Trump said of Murkowski in a statement earlier this month.
Senate candidates in a number of Republican primaries are already vying for Trump’s support, and the Alaska primary is likely to be no different. Tshibaka said Tuesday on Fox News that she would love to score Trump’s endorsement.
However, the race will be structured differently for the 2022 midterm elections. Alaska voters approved a ballot measure in the last election that imposed ranked-choice voting in statewide contests moving forward, combining the Democratic and Republican primaries into one election in which the top four vote-getters advance, regardless of party. That could give Murkowski an advantage, as Republican primary voters will not be the only voters deciding her fate.
Murkowski has not yet announced whether she plans to seek reelection in 2022. Five Senate Republican incumbents have announced retirement plans ahead of the midterm elections.
Original Author: Sarah Westwood
Original Location: Trump aides back Alaska candidate challenging Murkowski