Sen. Lisa Murkowski won re-election in Alaska, NBC News projected Wednesday, handing former President Donald Trump another loss in what has largely been a miserable midterm cycle for his handpicked candidates in competitive races. by the Senate.
Murkowski, one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, survived a challenge from Kelly Tshibaka, a former commissioner of the Trump-backed Alaska Department of Administration.
“I am honored that Alaskans, of all regions, backgrounds, and party affiliations, have once again placed their trust in me to continue to work with them and on their behalf in the US Senate,” Murkowski tweeted Wednesday night “I look forward to continuing the important work ahead of us.”
Murkowski’s re-election victory came in the state first Senate race to be decided by ranked-choice vote.
Rather than limit voters to one option, the format allows candidates to be ranked in order of preference. Neither Murkowski nor Tshibaka, the top two-vote winners in the first round of the Nov. 8 general election, won a majority after the top picks were tabulated, prompting runoff rounds on Wednesday in which ballots listing the eliminated candidates were reassigned to the voter’s next choices.
Murkowski, Tshibaka, Democrat Patricia Chesbro and Republican Buzz Kelley advanced after a nonpartisan primary in August. Kelley later withdrew and endorsed Tshibaka, but remained on the ballot. Wednesday’s runoff began with second-choice votes from those who preferred last-place Kelley to be dispersed among the three remaining candidates. Chesbro was eliminated next, and the second-choice votes on her ballot helped get Murkowski over the threshold.
From the start, the contest was largely centered on the top two Republicans and their relationships with Trump.
Tshibaka, for example, caused a stir by vowing that she would not endorse another Trump rival, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for another term as Senate Republican leader if elected.
Murkowski became a target for the right after emerging as a rare Republican official willing to criticize Trump and eventually condemn him for what she believed to be his incitement of the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6. 2021. The Alaska Republican Party censored she and Trump began calling it the “Alaskan disaster,” eventually endorsing Tshibaka in challenging her.
Murkowski is also known for her moderate profile in the Senate and her willingness to work with Democrats. She was one of three Republicans who voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in April. She has also run against her party in other big votes during the Trump administration, voting with Democrats and a handful of other Republicans to block the GOP’s attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In a recent campaign ad Summarizing his closing argument, Murkowski promised to “work with anyone, from any party, to advance Alaska’s priorities.”
Proponents of ranked-choice voting, a system that received national attention for its use in last year’s New York City mayoral election, believe the setup benefits moderate candidates who don’t play on the sidelines. neither party and work harder to appeal to the broadest group of people.
In the race for the Alaska House at-large seat, incumbent Rep. Mary Peltola, a Democrat, was elected to a full two-year term, defeating Republican Sarah Palin, a former governor and vice-presidential candidate, NBC projected. News.
Peltola had already made history in August, becoming the first Alaska Native to sit in Congress after winning the special election to replace Republican Rep. Don Young, who died in March at the age of 88. Young and the Republican Party had controlled the seat for nearly five decades before his victory.
zoe richards contributed.