Must Read Alaska readers have spoken, and say Kelly Tshibaka, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2022, is Alaska of the Year. Overwhelmingly.
Thirty-five percent of respondents to our poll, running for the past three weeks on Facebook, said Tshibaka is the most admirable Alaskan. She was followed by Mat-Su Borough Mayor Edna DeVries, Rep.-elect Jamie Allard, Rep. David Eastman, and Rep. Mike Cronk. Other Alaskans were mentioned, including Dr. Anne Zink, Dr. Ilona Farr, Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson and even Rep. Mary Peltola and Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Tshibaka announced her campaign to run for U.S. Senate against Murkowski in March of 2021. She fought tirelessly working each and every day on the campaign trail, coming from a relatively unknown candidate to a major threat to the Murkowski dynasty.
Due to the new voting system that made it an open primary, Tshibaka was not able to become the Republican Party’s sole nominee on the November ballot, even though she had the Republican Party’s endorsement, and Murkowski was censured by the party. In the end, Murkowski won, and Tshibaka came in second — 117, 299 votes to Murkowski’s 135,972 — after Murkowski picked up nearly all of Democrat candidate Pat Chesbro’s second votes in ranked choice voting.
Tshibaka, born and raised in Alaska, left for college in Texas and then graduated from Harvard Law School. She went to work for the federal government as an inspector general, fighting fraud in government, and married and started a family before moving back to Alaska to join the administration of Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Two years later, she was running against Murkowski for the Senate.
The 2021 Alaskan of the Year was Jamie Allard, then an Anchorage Assemblyman and now heading to the Alaska Legislature as a representative for Eagle River.