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

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, leaves the chamber during a vote, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. Senate leaders have announced an agreement to extend the government’s borrowing authority into December, temporarily averting an unprecedented default that experts say would have decimated the economy, (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Updated November 12, 2021 at 2:24 PM ET

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.

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