In Politico on Saturday, former President Donald Trump made it clear that he will get involved in the 2022 Senate race in Alaska, where incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski is expected to defend her seat.
“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,” Trump wrote to Politico. “Her vote to advance radical left democrat Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior is yet another example of Murkowski not standing up for Alaska.”
This is the second time he has said he will be in Alaska next year, campaigning against Murkowski.
Murkowski has been Alaska’s senator since appointed to the seat by her father, former Gov. Frank Murkowski, in 2002.
Some political observers, among them Must Read Alaska columnist and radio show host Dan Fagan, are wondering aloud if Alaska’s Commissioner of Administration Kelly Tshibaka is preparing for a run for Senate.
Trump coming to Alaska to back a candidate other than Murkowski could make Alaska’s Senate race the one to watch nationwide. After all, in November’s General Election, 189,951 Alaskans voted for Trump, with 153,778 voting for Biden.
According to Politico, Trump’s political team commissioned polling about Murkowski, which was conducted Jan. 30-Feb 1, just before Murkowski voted to convict Trump during the impeachment trial. That poll found Murkowski with a 43 percent favorable rating among Alaska voters, while Trump had a 52 percent approval rating, nearly identical to the percentage of Alaska voters who voted for him in November.
The survey by McLaughlin and Associates was paid for by Save America, Trump’s political action committee. McLaughlin was key to Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns.
Politico wrote that Trump’s statement and the poll from his leadership PAC “represents a new escalation in his battle against Murkowski. It also stands in stark contrast to his support for other Republican senators up for reelection in 2022. In recent days, Trump has given his endorsements to several incumbents in generally safe seats, including Sens. Mike Crapo (Idaho), Tim Scott (S.C.), Todd Young (Ind.) and John Kennedy (La.).”
Due to Ballot Measure 2, it will be harder than ever for a challenger to unseat Murkowski, who will not have to face a semi-closed party primary this cycle. Her name will be on a jungle primary ballot with all others who choose to run for Senate, giving her a distinct advantage with name recognition, power of the purse, and her ability to convince Democrats to vote for her.
That’s an advantage she did not have in 2010, when Joe Miller beat her in the Alaska Republican Party’s semi-closed primary, which has been outlawed by Ballot Measure 2.
In 2016, Bob Lochner, Paul Kendall, and Thomas Lamb challenged her in the primary, which she won with 71 percent of the vote.