AK Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka Announces Her Candidacy to Challenge Lisa Murkowski for Senate

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Alaska has released its first shot across the bow for 2022. After the Alaska GOP censured Senator Lisa Murkowski and threatened to mount a Republican primary challenger, they actually followed through with their threat.

Touting herself as part of the “new generation of Alaska conservatives,” Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka has officially launched her candidacy for United States Senate.

From a press release on the Kelly for Alaska website:

Alaska conservative Kelly Tshibaka today announced her candidacy for the United States Senate, setting up a 2022 Republican challenge to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a career politician who inherited her Senate seat from her father when he appointed her nearly 20 years ago.

Born and raised in Alaska, Tshibaka represents a new generation of Alaska conservatives, in stark contrast to Murkowski, who is best known for being a dependable vote for Democrats during almost two decades in the Senate. Tshibaka has spent her career exposing fraud and abuse in government and has been the Commissioner of Administration for Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy since January 2019. She thanked Gov. Dunleavy for the opportunity to serve the people of Alaska and has resigned from her position as Commissioner.

While the run for Senate may be fresh, from a November 2019 post from Tshibaka’s Facebook page, it appears that her exploration of higher political office may have been in the works for over a year:

“I was born and raised in Alaska, believing this was an exceptional state that provides unlimited opportunity. Alaska changed the course of my family destiny. My parents went from living homeless in a tent to seeing me get into Harvard Law School. Alaska has always been #1 in my heart, but it’s been coming in near last place in the nation for education, crime, and economy. I was inspired by Governor Dunleavy’s vision and courage to move home and turn our state’s crisis into a comeback-it’s time for the last to be First. Alaskans need opportunities again. “Follow” this page for regular updates!”

Fox News reported exclusively on Tshibaka’s campaign launch:

“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. After nearly 20 years in D.C., Lisa Murkowski thinks the same way,” Tshibaka says in a video being released by her campaign Monday. “But you know what? Nothing scares the D.C. political insiders more than the thought of a strong, independent Alaskan leader in their ranks. One they can’t bully. One they can’t control. One they can’t silence.”

She added: “I believe in a better future for Alaska. One we can rise up together and rebuild.”

“I’m running for the Alaskans who believe government is of the people, by the people, and for the people,” she continued. “The D.C. insiders need to be held accountable to us.”

As I wrote in my piece, You Heard It Here First: Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski Is Toast:

With Trump’s influence, the Alaska GOP is feeling fresh fire, and that fire may continue to spread nationally. Murkowski has too often lacked any consistent commitment on issues, unless it is saving her hide. She likes to come off as equitable, without appearing partisan. Murkowski tries to split the baby, but only manages to end up bloodied in the effort.

Tshibaka has no issues with defining herself, and currently has no intention of parsing her stance. It is clear from the campaign website that she is Conservative, Pro-Life, and Pro 2A.

With the perceived weakness of Murkowski’s incumbency, Democrats are also planning on mounting a challenger. Alaska voters modified their laws recently to allow their primaries to be “all party”:

Tshibaka is competing in an all-party primary in August 2022, after Alaska voters passed a ballot measure last year.

Candidates of any party will be on the same ballot in the state’s August 2022 primary, with the top four contenders advancing to the November general election, which will use ranked choice voting.

The contest, at this point, would include Tshibaka and Bob Lochner, who ran against Murkowski during her last election in 2016. Murkowski has not formally announced her bid for re-election.

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