Murkowski pulls nearly even in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race

Lisa Murkowski greets supporters during her election night party in downtown Anchorage on Nov. 8, 2022. (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is now neck-and-neck with Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka in the vote count update Tuesday from the Alaska Division of Elections. 

U.S. House Rep. Democrat Mary Peltola is still far ahead of Republican rival Sarah Palin. Republican Nick Begich remains in third place.

So far, only first-choice votes have been counted. None of the congressional candidates appear on track to cross the 50% threshold. That means the outcome in both the House and Senate race will depend on second- and third-rankings. They’ll be tabulated Nov. 23.

The first updates of the week added about 27,000 votes to the total. Ballots counted Tuesday included absentee, questioned and early votes from many Anchorage districts as well as Fairbanks, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and the central Kenai Peninsula.

Tshibaka now has 43.34% to Murkowski’s 43.11% of first choice votes. The gap between them has shrunk dramatically. Murkowski is behind by only 565 votes, down from 3,000. If Murkowski doesn’t pull ahead in the next update this week, she’ll likely make that up when Democrat Pat Chesbro is eliminated and her 24,000 ballots transferred to the voter’s second choice.

a woman speaks at a podium
Kelly Tshibaka thanks her supporters during a speech at her election night party in Anchorage (Elyssa Loughlin/Alaska Public Media)

A large share of Chesbro voters are believed to have ranked Murkowski second, preferring her moderate position on abortion rights and willingness to work with Democrats. 

Tshibaka is endorsed by former President Donald Trump and faults Murkowski for cooperating across the aisle and for being part of the “establishment.”

In the House race, Peltola has 48.13% of the vote, a slight increase from the last count on Nov. 10. Palin has 26% and Begich has nearly 24%.

Peltola and Palin both left Alaska shortly after the Nov. 8 election. Peltola has returned to Washington, D.C., where she is serving out the term of the late Alaska Congressman Don Young.

Palin was signing autographs at a sports card expo in Toronto on Saturday with her boyfriend, former National Hockey League player Ron Duguay. 

Related stories:

Alaska Gov. Dunleavy still on track to secure another term with more ballots counted

Here are the latest vote tallies in Alaska’s first ranked choice general election

Palin and Tshibaka are on track to lose but hint at election battles ahead

Why Peltola and Murkowski are well situated to win reelection

Find more election coverage and voter resources at alaskapublic.org/elections.

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.