Alaska voters focused on local issues as Murkowski, Tshibaka primary looms

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 5:24 PM EDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Gray DC) - Alaskans head to the polls Tuesday as multiple high-profile races will alter the makeup of Congress. The race for U.S. Senate presents voters with a stark contrast in candidates. Donald The Trump-endorsed Kelly Tshibaka is trying to unseat Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who has held the seat for 20 years.

Despite the national attention on the race, Alaskans are still focused on local issues.

“The economy and inflation is a huge deal,” said Melinda Jones, a Murkowski volunteer from Fairbanks, Alaska.

“Drilling is everything up here,” said Brian Johnson, a Tshibaka supporter from Eagle River, Alaska.

Jones thinks Murkowski is effective in Congress. Johnson sees Murkowski as someone creating problems in Alaska, not solving them. Two candidates trying to prove they represent the right future for the Last Frontier.

The race garnered widespread attention last year when former President Trump pledged to campaign against Murkowski after her vote to impeach Trump following the January 6 Capitol riots. Tshibaka became Trump’s candidate of choice.

“If we want to change the direction of Alaska, we need a change in our Senate seat,” said Tshibaka.

A former federal government watchdog, Tshibaka touts her anti-swamp credentials while arguing Murkowski is not conservative enough. She also perpetuates Trump’s unfounded claims of a fraudulent 2020 general election.

“There are still questions that remain a concern,” said Tshibaka.

Meanwhile, Murkowski is trying to stay above the Trump fray in the waning hours of this primary.

“He’s going to do what he’s going to do, and I’m going to fight my fight,” said Murkowski.

Murkowski, in Congress for two decades, argues she gets more done for the Last Frontier because of her willingness to work across party lines.

“They’re working with me because they know that they need to,” said Murkowski.

Both Murkowski and Tshibaka will quickly turn their attention to the November midterm elections as the top four primary vote getters move on. Results from the primary will not come for a number of days as officials handle a new ranked choice voting system and mail-in ballots.

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