The Alaska Republican State Central Committee on Saturday approved Kelly Tshibaka during 2022 for the U.S. Senate seat, currently held by Republican Lisa Murkowski.
The committee approved Tshibaka’s endorsement of a 58-17 vote during a Fairbanks meeting.
In a statement, Tshibaka said she would uphold conservative ideals and be a senator whom Alaskans “can rely on to make any decision based on what is best for our great state.”
Tshibaka announced on March 29 that she would run for the Senate seat, which is being held by Murkowski, who has been in office since 2002 and is widely regarded as a moderate. Two weeks earlier, the Republican Central Committee voted 53-17 to censor Murkowski, citing his vote to accuse former President Donald Trump and other votes broken with the GOP leadership. Alaska Republican leaders said at the time that they would recruit someone to run against her.
Murkowski said in a statement to the Daily News that she has fought for Alaska’s values in the US Senate and will continue to do so.
A spokeswoman for Murkowski said she has not yet asked for re-election.
“Alaska voters will decide who represents them in DC, and I work every day to earn their support,” Murkowski said in the statement.
Tshibaka was commissioner of the Alaska administration under Mike Dunleavy for just over two years before resigning to run for the U.S. Senate.
Trump approved Tshibaka last month, calling her “MAGA all the way.” Trump said in a statement at the time that he would fight for Tshibaka in Alaska.
“We are now moving forward with a united front, determined to defend Alaska against the continuing onslaught of the radical Biden administration,” Tshibaka said in a statement on Saturday. “It’s time for conservative leaders with courage and common sense to stand together across the nation.”
Murkowski has seen fierce competition on the ballot before: In 2010, she experienced a surprising loss to Joe Miller in the Republican election, but she won the November election as an enrollment candidate – the first senator to do so in over 50 years.
A complicating factor in the 2022 election is Alaska’s new ranked electoral system, ready for implementation under a voter-approved initiative challenged in court. Under the new system, which would end the party’s primary election in Alaska, the four largest voters went in an open primary until the November general election, regardless of party affiliation. It opens up the possibility of having several candidates from the same party in elections for the vote.