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Trump Backed Candidate Defeats Murkowski In Election Model

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Former President Donald Trump appears that he may get his revenge on Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who was a thorn in his side.

The Senator voted yes in one of the former president’s impeachment trials and spoke against him frequently.

The former president backed a Republican candidate against her for the Alaska Senate and it is not going Sen. Murkowski’s way.

Alaska uses ranked choice voting and a simulation done by FiveThirtyEight showed that the Trump backed candidate, Kelly Tshibaka, defeated Sen. Lisa Murkowski 52 of 100 times.

But because Alaska uses ranked choice voting it could favor Murkowski in what is expected to be a close election, Breitbart News reported.

One of the challenges Tshibaka faces is the state’s newly instituted ranked-choice voting system, which ultimately affords Democrat voters the opportunity to vote for Murkowski on the second and third ballots. A recent video exposed a Murkowski aide who said the 2020 ballot initiative to decide whether to institute ranked-choice voting in Alaska was pushed by people who “wanted Lisa to get re-elected.”

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Not all circumstances favor Murkowski. Tshibaka has a strong chance to upset Murkowski, whose father gave her the seat 21 years ago.

Tshibaka has gained three endorsements from candidates who have dropped out of the race, an important factor amid the ranked-choice voting system. Coalesced support behind Tshibaka means fewer votes may slip away to Murkowski in the balloting process.

Tshibaka has also thrived on in-state fundraising. While Murkowski has raised 85 percent of 2022 cycle donations from outside the state of Alaska, Tshibaka is winning the battle among Alaskan donors by about $20,000, a notable feat against a politician who has been in office for 21 years.

Murkowski has voted to advance several of Biden’s secretaries including Interior Secretary Deb Haaland who has done damage to Alaska energy producers.

“We knew before the vote that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland would be against our jobs, that she was out to get our jobs, and she hasn’t disappointed on that front,” Oil & Gas Workers Association Matt Coday said.

“And for Lisa Murkowski, for her to cast the tie-breaking vote to advance her confirmation, it’s really a slap in the face of every American who works in this industry,” he said.

In April, Sen. Murkowski admitted that she may lose her primary bid to Donald Trump-endorsed candidate Kelly Tshibaka.

“I may not be re-elected,” Murkowski told the New York Times about the possible end of her 20-year Senate career.

“It may be that Alaskans say, ‘Nope, we want to go with an absolute, down-the-line, always, always, 100-percent, never-question, rubber-stamp Republican,” she said about Tshibaka, who is leading in the polls.

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“And if they say that that’s the way that Alaska has gone — kind of the same direction that so many other parts of the country have gone — I have to accept that,” Murkowski added. “But I’m going to give them the option… Maybe I am just completely politically naïve, and this ship has sailed. But I won’t know unless we — unless I — stay out there and give Alaskans the opportunity to weigh in.”

A new poll recently found that Tshibaka — who won the endorsement of the Alaskan Republican Party and scored Trump’s endorsement — is leading Murkowski heading into the August 16 GOP primary.

The poll, conducted the way Alaska’s new ranked-choice voting system will hold its election, finds that Tshibaka would emerge as the only candidate with a shot to get over 50 percent in a four-way field in November.

On that first choice on the ballot, Tshibaka comes in with 45.4 percent and Murkowski at just 28.7 percent—with a generic Democrat close behind Murkowski and a libertarian candidate in fourth place. The poll’s margin of error is 4.21 percent.

“The way Alaska will elect its U.S. Senator under the new ranked-choice system is that four candidates will be on the ballot in November. That will come after a jungle primary in August where every candidate, regardless of party who files, faces off and the top four vote-getters advance to the November election. In the November election, voters will list their choices and rank them. To win, a candidate needs to get over 50 percent plus one vote to seal the deal; until that happens, there will be a second and possibly a third round of vote counting. The way it works is the first round sees voters’ first choice counted, and then when that concludes, the last-place candidate is eliminated, and their votes are distributed to the other candidates in a second round based on that candidate’s voters’ second choice — and so on until a candidate gets to 50 percent plus one vote,” Breitbart reported.

“This ranked-choice system was championed by Murkowski’s former political team, and the prevailing reason for it was to try to protect her from a primary challenge and keep her political career alive as long as possible. Murkowski, for the record, has never reached 50 percent in any of her general election wins for the U.S. Senate. She was nearly defeated in 2010, losing in the GOP primary to Joe Miller, but then she mounted a successful general election write-in bid to save her seat that year,” the report added.

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