Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced her reelection bid Friday morning, pledging to remain an independent voice for her home state as former President Donald Trump works to oust her for someone more loyal to him.
Murkowski did not invoke Trump by name in her two-minute announcement video, but she warned that outside influences were seeking to defeat her at the expense of Alaskans.
“In this election, lower 48 outsiders are going to try to grab Alaska’s Senate seat for their partisan agendas,” Murkowski said. “They don’t understand our state, and frankly, they couldn’t care less about your future.”
“I will work with anyone from either party to advance Alaska’s priorities, and I will always stand up to any politician or special interest that threatens our way of life,” Murkowski added. (RELATED: Lisa Murkowski Is Not Afraid To Buck The Party Line Or Criticize Trump. Could It Cost Her In 2022?)
BREAKING NEWS: I am excited to announce that I’m running for re-election to continue representing the great state of Alaska.
Watch more on why I’m running to be your independent voice! pic.twitter.com/afTzZSQ0qT
— Lisa Murkowski (@LisaForSenate) November 12, 2021
Murkowski has served as a moderate Republican in Congress, and she has not been afraid to buck her party in the past. She vocally criticized Trump throughout his term and voted to convict him in February on charges that he incited the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
Murkowski’s most prominent challenger is Trump-endorsed Kelly Tshibaka, Alaska’s commissioner of administration. Trump said in his endorsement that Tshibaka is “a fighter who stands for Alaska values and America first” and vowed to travel to the state in 2022 to campaign against Murkowski.
The race sets up a sort of proxy war between Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom Trump has repeatedly criticized, most recently for supporting the bipartisan infrastructure bill. McConnell and his allies, including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, have vowed to back Murkowski, who has held her seat since 2002.
Murkowski’s reelection effort is not the first that has been a fight. She lost to Tea Party candidate, Joe Miller, in the 2010 GOP primary, only to win the general election as a write-in candidate.
Alaska also adopted ranked-choice voting in 2020, allowing voters to rank their preferred candidates instead of selecting just one.
While Murkowski is a lifelong Alaskan, Tshibaka left the state when she was 15 and returned in 2019. Tshibaka was also under investigation earlier this year for allegedly obtaining a sportfishing license without residing in the state for long enough, and she was fined $270 for fishing without a license in October.
Tshibaka has “a problem with her fishing license and residency problem,” Murkowski told CNN. “I don’t know her. She just came back to the state a couple years ago.”
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