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Murkowski, Palin Advance in AK Races   08/17 06:10


   JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) -- Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski advanced 
from her primary along with Kelly Tshibaka, her GOP rival endorsed by former 
President Donald Trump, while another Trump-backed candidate, Republican Sarah 
Palin, was among the candidates bound for the November general election in the 
race for Alaska's only House seat.

   Murkowski had expressed confidence that she would advance and earlier in the 
day told reporters that "what matters is winning in November." Tshibaka called 
the results "the first step in breaking the Murkowski monarchy's grip on 
Alaska." Tshibaka also said she was thankful "for the strong and unwavering 
support President Trump has shown Alaska."

   A Murkowski has held the Senate seat since 1981. Before Lisa Murkowski, who 
has been in the Senate since late 2002, it was her father, Frank Murkowski.

   Under a voter-approved elections process being used for the first time in 
Alaska elections this year, party primaries have been scrapped and ranked 
choice voting is being used in general elections. The top four vote-getters in 
a primary race, regardless of party affiliation, are to advance to the general 

   The other two places in the Senate race were too early to call.

   Murkowski voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial after the 
Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. Trump was acquitted. But he has had strong words 
for Murkowski, calling her "the worst" during a rally last month in Anchorage.

   Murkowski said that if Tshibaka derives her sole strength from Trump's 
endorsement, "what does that really say about her as a candidate with what she 
has to offer Alaska? Is it just that she will be a rubber stamp for Donald 
Trump? I don't think that all Alaskans are really seeking that. Not the ones 
that I'm talking to."

   Kevin Durling, a co-chair of Tshibaka's campaign, said Trump's endorsement 
of Tshibaka was an added bonus for him. He said Tshibaka's commitment to 
business and family and her values were important to him. He expressed 
frustration with Murkowski for the impeachment vote and for her support of the 
nomination of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

   In the House primary, Democrat Mary Peltola, Palin and Republican Nick 
Begich advanced to the November election. It was too early to call the fourth 
spot. The winner of the November race will be elected to a two-year term.

   Peltola, Begich and Palin were also competing in a special election to serve 
the remainder of the late-Rep. Don Young 's term, which ends early next year. 
Young died in March.

   The special election was voters' first shot at ranked voting in a statewide 
race. The winner of the special election may not be known until at least Aug. 
31. If successful, Peltola would be the first Alaska Native woman elected to 
the House.

   There also were several write-in candidates in the special election, 
including Republican Tara Sweeney, who was also competing in the House primary. 
Sweeney was an assistant secretary for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Interior 
Department during the Trump administration.

   The special election was on one side of the ballot; the other side contained 
primary races for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor and lieutenant governor and 
legislative seats.

   Palin, in a statement Tuesday evening, called this "the first test case of 
the crazy, convoluted, undesirable ranked-choice voting system."

   Supporters of ranked voting have said it encourages positive campaigning but 
the House race has at times taken on harsh tones.

   Begich, a businessman from a family of prominent Democrats, has come out 
hard against Palin, seeking to cast her as someone chasing fame and as a 
quitter; Palin resigned during her term as governor in 2009.

   In one Begich ad, the narrator says Alaska has faced "years of disasters," 
including fires and COVID-19. "Sarah Palin is one disaster we can actually 
avoid," the narrator says.

   A narrator in one of Palin's ads refers to Begich as "negative Nick" and 
says Palin wants to serve in Congress "to carry Don Young's torch."

   Peltola, a former lawmaker who most recently worked at a commission whose 
goal is to rebuild salmon resources on the Kuskokwim River, has cast herself as 
a consensus builder.

   She said one thing that would help her be a good representative is that she 
is "not a millionaire. I am just like every other regular Alaskan, and I 
understand the economic struggles that Alaskans face first-hand. My priorities 
are the priorities of everyday Alaskans."

   In a statement early Wednesday, she said while the results of the special 
election won't be known for some time, "we are moving forward into the general 
election. We are going to build on this momentum and build a coalition of 
Alaskans that can win in November."

   In the race for Alaska governor, Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy advanced, as 
did former Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, and Democrat Les Gara. It was too 
early to call the fourth spot.

   Dunleavy and his running mate, Nancy Dahlstrom, in a statement said this "is 
only the start of the race. We'll dig into all the numbers as they come in over 
the next few days to find out where we need to shore up our campaign, and we're 
looking forward to reaching every Alaskan and earning their vote between now 
and November."

   Walker is running with Heidi Drygas and Gara with Jessica Cook.

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