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Letters to the Editor — June 18, 2021

Former President Donald Trump formally endorsed Alaska Republican Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka Friday, saying in a statement that GOP incumbent Lisa Murkowski “has got to go!”

Trump said earlier this year that he would not endorse Murkowski in next year’s election, even vowing to travel to The Last Frontier to campaign against the woman he called a “disloyal and very bad Senator.”

Friday’s statement echoed the former president’s earlier assessment, claiming that Murkowski “is bad for Alaska” and promising to stump for Tshibaka.

“Her vote to confirm Biden’s Interior Secretary [Deb Haaland] was a vote to kill long sought for, and approved, ANWR, and Alaska jobs,” the statement read. “Murkowski has got to go! Kelly Tshibaka is the candidate who can beat Murkowski—and she will.

“Kelly is a fighter who stands for Alaska values and America First,” Trump continued. “She is MAGA all the way, pro-energy, strong on the Border, tough on Crime and totally supports our Military and our great Vets. Kelly is a powerful supporter of the Second Amendment and JOBS! I look forward to campaigning in Alaska for Kelly Tshibaka. She has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

“I am honored, excited, and grateful to have the support of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump,” said Tshibaka, the former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration, in a statement to The Hill. “To have his strong endorsement is great news for our campaign and even better news for the people of Alaska, because it means we will be getting our Senate seat back from Lisa Murkowski.”

Trump’s statement did not mention that Murkowski was one of seven GOP senators to vote to convict him earlier this year on a single count of inciting insurrection in connection with the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol. Murkowski is the only one of those seven to come up for reelection next year.

“If months of lies, organizing a rally of supporters in an effort to thwart the work of Congress, encouraging a crowd to march on the Capitol, and then taking no meaningful action to stop the violence once it began is not worthy of impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from holding office in the United States, I cannot imagine what is,” Murkowski said in a statement justifying her vote.

Trump won Alaska by 15 and 10 percentage points in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, respectively. In addition, the Alaska Republican Party voted to censure Murkowski over her impeachment trial vote and vowed to both recruit a primary challenger and prevent Murkowski from running as a Republican to the extent legally possible.

But Murkowski, who was first appointed to the Senate in 2002 by her father, then-Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski, could still prove difficult to dislodge.

In 2010, she lost the Republican primary to attorney Joe Miller, only to win reelection as a write-in candidate. This year, all the candidates will run in a nonpartisan “jungle primary” in which the top four candidates will advance to the ballot for the November general election, when ranked-choice voting will be used to determine a winner.

Murkowski is not the only pro-impeachment lawmaker Trump is trying to force out of office next year. Earlier this week, he announced that he will hold a campaign-style rally in Ohio to support GOP House candidate Max Miller. Miller, a former Trump adviser, is challenging Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump earlier this year.

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