The last Senate race from this year’s midterms has been decided, as incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) won over fellow Republican and Trump-endorsee Kelly Tshibaka. This marked the first year of Alaska’s new ranked-choice election system being used in a general election, including federal offices.
Murkowski acknowledged her win came by way of the new system that undoubtedly gave her votes from a substantial number of Democrats. She said in a tweet posted on Wednesday that she had been elected by Alaskans “of all regions, backgrounds and party affiliations.”
I'm proud of the race we ran and I will always stand up for Alaskans. Read my full statement below: pic.twitter.com/VPq3UAqXDb
— Kelly Tshibaka – Text KELLY to 20903 (@KellyForAlaska) November 24, 2022
Tshibaka issued a press statement Wednesday that congratulated Murkowski on her re-election. She added: “The new election system has been frustrating to many Alaskans, because it was indisputably designed as an incumbent-protection program, and it clearly worked as intended.”
The two Republicans faced off in the last round of voting as a result of the state’s new system. After the open primary earlier this year, the top four candidates in that election were on the ballot for the November 8 general election.
General election voters were asked to rank their preferences among the candidates from first through fourth. The system provides that if no candidate receives a simple majority of the first choices of all voters in the first round, counting proceeds to a second round.
In the second round, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. If a voter’s first choice is the one eliminated, their second choice gets counted. Those who had a surviving candidate as their first choice have that vote counted again. The complicated process repeats until one candidate has received a simple majority of the votes counted.
President Donald Trump endorsed and campaigned for Tshibaka while asking Alaska voters to send Murkowski home from the Senate after almost two decades in Washington. Murkowski was one of seven GOP Senators who voted to remove Trump from office after the second impeachment from the House had been handed down.
The Senate vote fell short of the two-thirds majority required to remove President Trump. In any event, the vote did not take place until after Joe Biden had assumed office in the White House.
The Alaska Republican Party backed Tshibaka and even voted to censure Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in October for making “divisive and misleading statements” about Tshibaka.
The censure also rebuked McConnell for directing financial support to Murkowski’s campaign against a fellow Republican at the expense of other GOP candidates for the Senate around the country in close races against Democrats.