Following the decision of a handful of Republican lawmakers to vote in favor of impeaching former President Donald Trump, rumors began to circulate that they could face serious primary challenges in their upcoming bids for re-election.
According to recent reports, the former director of the Alaska Department of Administration announced this week that she would be launching a campaign to challenge U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in next year’s GOP primary race.
“The failed candidate”
“We know what Washington D.C. thinks about Alaska: We’re here for their benefit, and we won’t put up much of a fight,” said Kelly Tshibaka in a news release on Monday. “After nearly 20 years in D.C., Lisa Murkowski thinks the same way.”
The Republican’s video announcement took aim at “D.C. political insiders,” whom she declared should be afraid of “the thought of a strong, independent Alaskan leader in their ranks.”
Tskibaka’s revelation came just weeks after the Alaska Republican Party voted to censure Murkowski over her vote to impeach Trump in the wake of a deadly riot on Capitol Hill in January. Despite the opposition from within her own party, Murkowski has indicated that she plans to seek another term in the Senate.
For his part, Trump has publicly revealed his plans to oppose Murkowski.
Earlier this month, he wrote: “I will not be endorsing, under any circumstances, the failed candidate from the great State of Alaska, Lisa Murkowski. She represents her state badly and her country even worse. 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.”
A high-stakes endeavor
Murkowski’s moderate views have led to intraparty criticism on issues aside from her impeachment vote. In 2018, for example, she decided to oppose Brett Kavanaugh as Trump’s nominee to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
When the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg created another vacancy on the high court, Murkowski urged Trump not to nominate a replacement in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.
The senator also faces a lack of support among the state’s rank-and-file GOP voters, as a poll released last month reveals. According to the survey, she received a favorable rating from just 43% of respondents.
Of course, Tshibaka will face an uphill battle in seeking to unseat Murkowski. Alaska’s ranked-choice system permits the top four primary-race finishers from all parties to compete in the general election.
Considering the system in place, the plan has the potential to backfire if the GOP vote is sufficiently divided, thus allowing a Democratic candidate to eke out a victory in the traditionally red state.