Trump endorses Murkowski challenger in 2022 Senate race

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, listens during a U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, U.S.

Former President Donald Trump on Friday endorsed Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka against Senator Lisa Murkowski, the three-term Republican incumbent who voted to convict him after his second impeachment trial earlier this year.

Tshibaka, the former state administration commissioner, launched her campaign in March with a vow to defeat Murkowski in the 2022 election and has already enlisted the help of former Trump advisers.

“Lisa Murkowski is bad for Alaska,” Trump said in a statement. “Murkowski has got to go! Kelly Tshibaka is the candidate who can beat Murkowski – and she will.”

Trump also said he would campaign for Tshibaka in Alaska.

A Murkowski spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

Murkowski, 64, was appointed in 2002 and is seeking a fourth six-year term in the Senate. She lost her Republican primary in 2010 to a Tea Party candidate but mounted a successful write-in campaign in that year’s general election.

Next year, she and Tshibaka would run against all Senate candidates in an open, all-party primary.

Republicans are hoping to reclaim their Senate majority, which they lost with the defeat of two Georgia incumbents in a pair of January runoff elections. Many Republicans blame the double upset on intraparty divisions sown by Trump’s failed drive to overturn Democratic President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory.

“I am honored and grateful to have the support of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump,” Tshibaka tweeted. She also used Trump’s endorsement to solicit money for her campaign.

Murkowski voted to convict Trump of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, in which his supporters attacked Congress in an effort to stop certification of the 2020 election. The Alaska Republican Party later censured Murkowski and pledged to recruit a challenger to oppose her.

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