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Murkowski voted to convict Trump. Now she'll run against a candidate he backs

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is running for reelection facing a GOP opponent endorsed by former President Trump.
J. Scott Applewhite
Sen. Lisa Murkowski is running for reelection facing a GOP opponent endorsed by former President Trump.

Updated November 12, 2021 at 2:24 PM ET

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial last February, announced Friday she is running for reelection.

Murkowski was one of seven Republican senators to vote to convict Trump on charges of insurrection, and the only one seeking reelection next year. It is one example of the ways she has at times bucked her party.

In a video announcing her decision, Murkowski asserted that "lower 48 outsiders are going to try and grab Alaska's Senate seat. ... They couldn't care less about your future."

That was a thinly veiled shot at her Trump-endorsed GOP opponent, Kelly Tshibaka, former commissioner of Alaska's Department of Administration. The state Republican Party supports Tshibaka, too, and she is slated to hold a fundraiser at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in February hosted by the former president.

But Murkowski has the support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and has received campaign contributions from the Bluegrass PAC, aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Murkowski first entered the Senate in 2002, when her father, former Gov. Frank Murkowski, named her to finish his term in Washington. She has established a reputation for being a moderate independent. She was the only Republican to break ranks to support a voting rights bill pushed by Democrats earlier this month. She also voted for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, and is one of the few Republicans in the Senate who is an abortion-rights supporter.

She won reelection in 2010 running as a write-in candidate, after losing the GOP primary. Alaska now has a nonpartisan primary, and the top four finishers in the state primary will face each other in the general election, which is a ranked-choice vote.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: November 12, 2021 at 12:00 AM EST
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the top two finishers in Alaska's primary would face each other in a runoff. In fact, the top four finishers in the primary will face each other in the general election.
NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.

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