The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has signaled it will back Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in her reelection campaign, which could pose a challenge to former President Donald Trump’s plan to campaign against her.
CNN reports that Trump plans to go after Murkowski because she voted to convict him in his second impeachment trial.
According to the network, GOP challenger Kelly Tshibaka has hired some of Trump’s advisers to help with her campaign to defeat Murkowski.
But she will have to be prepared to compete with Murkowski, who has edged out challengers before and now has the support of a group that spent over $476 million in the last election cycle.
Murkowski is yet to announce her reelection bid, but she filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission last month.
“Alaska needs the kind of experienced representation that Lisa Murkowski provides in the United States Senate,” said SLF President Steven Law. “Whether fighting for Alaskan interests like expanding energy production and protecting fisheries, or advancing conservative priorities by confirming judges and cutting taxes, her strong leadership is vitally important to Alaska’s future.”
Mary Ann Pruitt, an adviser to the Tshibaka campaign who worked on Murkowski’s 2016 race, ripped the PAC’s endorsement.
“It’s just like D.C. insiders to ignore the voices of Alaska voters to protect one of their own,” Pruitt said.
The Senate race could pit McConnell and Trump against one another as they both fight over the future of the Republican Party.
While Trump hasn’t come out with a formal endorsement for Tshibaka, he has started to endorse several incumbent GOP senators. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran have both received Trump’s backing.
Murkowski shouldn’t count on receiving any help from Trump. He vowed to campaign against her because she voted to convict him for his role in allegedly inciting the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“She represents her state badly and her country even worse,” Trump said in March. “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.”
But Murkowski can count on support from other GOP lawmakers, including McConnell. He said he will “absolutely” support Murkowski. CNN reports that Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan also indicated he would back Murkowski ”if” she runs again.
Tshibaka is a former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner. She formally announced her candidacy last month. According to CNN, she said she is pitching herself as an outsider who is prepared to take on a powerful, longtime insider.
Murkowski took over the Senate seat of her father, Frank, in 2002 and won the seat in 2004. After losing the 2010 Republican primary to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller, Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate and won. She was elected to a third term in 2016.
During Trump’s presidency, she was often considered a swing vote. She backed the 2017 tax overhaul bill, but opposed the Republican Party’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She said she didn’t vote for Trump in 2020.
Some of her votes have been blasted by Republicans. She was censured by the Alaska Republican Party after her vote to impeach Trump. The group said it would ”recruit” a challenger.
Tshibaka has a deep bench of Trump aides on her team. She hired National Public Affairs, a political consulting firm run by Trump’s top 2020 strategists, and Line Drive Public Affairs’ Tim Murtaugh, Trump’s former campaign communications director.
In her video, Tshibaka called Murkowski “so out of touch” for voting “to remove Donald Trump from office, even after he was already gone.”
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