Two more candidates supported by former President Donald Trump have lost their congressional races in Alaska, which means Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) and Rep. Mary Peltola (D) will be serving in the Senate and House next year. The results of these races could strike another blow to public perception of the former president only a week after he announced he would be seeking another run at the White House.
Two Alaska moderates, GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola, won reelection Wednesday over two challengers backed by former President Donald Trump, thanks to the state’s ranked-choice-voting system, which allowed them to prevail without winning a majority of the vote.
Murkowski repelled Trump-backed Republican Kelly Tshibaka, less than two years after Murkowski voted for conviction in Trump’s impeachment trial.
During the Nov 8 elections, the first held under the new voting system, Murkowski defeated Republican Kelly Tshibaka 53.7% to 46.3%. Peltola beat Palin 54.9% to 45.1%.
Murkowski’s win, in particular, is notable because she was one of six GOP senators to vote in favor of impeaching Trump after he left office for supposedly inciting the Jan. 6 riot. Peltola’s victory is also noteworthy because she will be the first Democrat in the state to win a full House term since 1970. She will also be the first Alaska Native woman elected to Congress.
Palin and other Republicans criticized Alaska’s new ranked-choice voting system. The former governor called it a “cockamamie system” that is “very, very potentially fraught with fraud.”
Murkowski, about two weeks before the election, also raised some eyebrows when she announced she would be backing Peltola in her race.
“Mary is a woman whose heart is as grounded in Alaska as anybody you’re going to find,” the senator said.
She also indicated she would rank Peltola first when she went to the polls to vote. Peltola, for her part, also said she would rank Murkowski first.
Of course, the elephant in the room is President Trump, whose picks in the midterm elections were being closely watched by members of the chattering class on both sides. In critical races, most of the candidates he endorsed were defeated despite winning their primaries, which has many speculating that his influence outside of his base has waned considerably. These races will be seen as even more evidence of this speculation, especially if Herschel Walker, who is running to unseat Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia, fails to deliver.