Former President Donald Trump has announced plans to campaign against Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski in the 2022 election. Murkowski was one of seven Republican Senators to vote to impeach Trump following the January 6 U.S. Capitol riot.
In a statement to Politico last weekend, Trump noted, “I will not be endorsing, under any circumstances, the failed candidate from the great State of Alaska, Lisa Murkowski. She represents her state badly and her country even worse. I do not know where other people will be next year, but I know where I will be — in Alaska campaigning against a disloyal and very bad Senator.”
Trump emphasized his seriousness in his statement by noting he would make the trip from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, to travel the 5,000-mile journey to Alaska to campaign against Sen. Murkowski.
Murkowski has served as Senator in Alaska since 2002. She has served as a longtime critic of Trump and struggled with supporting his reelection in 2020. The former president called her out by name in his recent speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) as a Republican who needed to be voted out in 2022.
Her actions have also extended beyond her concerns with Trump. She voted against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and opposed selecting a replacement for the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg prior to the 2020 election.
Murkowski’s brazen impeachment vote against the former president led her to note, “I know that my actions, my vote may have political consequences. And I understand that. I absolutely understand that. But I can’t be afraid of that.”
She may be correct about political consequences. Trump’s plan to campaign against her will likely serve as the beginning of a long-lasting battle to remove the Senator from office.
However, the change will not be easy. Alaska has a ranked-choice system for Senate. Candidates from all parties compete in an open primary, with the top four listed in the general election. This means Murkowski will almost certainly remain on the ballot, though she may face strong competition from a fellow Republican in November.
This Alaska challenge may serve as a proving ground regarding Trump’s influence in the midterm elections. While he has already offered endorsements to many Republicans in advance of 2022, Sen. Murkowski stands as the first Republican Senator that Trump is actively seeking to remove from office.
The battle will serve as a tremendous challenge to Alaskans as well. Traditionally a solid conservative state, its voters supported Trump with 53 percent of the vote in the past election.
However, the ranked-choice system may split conservative votes and backfire with two Republicans and perhaps one Democrat and one independent on the ticket. If so, a strategic campaign will be required to focus conservative support on Trump’s favored candidate to keep Alaska red and not divided with Democrats winning the state.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. A win could present a major green light for a Trump 2024 presidential run. A loss could give Alaska a Democrat Senator, with Trump’s division of conservatives giving a victory to the left.