Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former President Donald J. Trump have their missiles locked on each other in a proxy battle over the Alaska Senate race.
Trump fights on behalf of the Alaska Republican Party’s endorsed candidate, Kelly Tshibaka. When Tshibaka met with Trump in June of 2021 to ask for his endorsement, he was impressed with her political judgment and work ethic and quickly gave her his full support.
Tshibaka is a born-and-raised Alaskan, part of the new fleet of Republicans who are super-smart, agile and capable, in the same vein as American patriots Kari Lake of Arizona and Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota.
McConnell, the old political warhorse, is not only warring against Trump and the Alaska Republican Party, but misdirected some $7 million from his Senate Leadership Fund to help the very person who the Alaska Republican Party has censured and asked to leave – Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who slipped into the Senate through her blue-bloodlines of the Alaska political oligarchy.
Any hope McConnell has for becoming Senate majority leader depends on whether his endorsed candidates win in key states, such as Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Instead, he’s trying to crush a preferred Republican in Alaska, filling the airwaves with lies about Tshibaka, tearing apart the Republican base and irritating Trump, who blasted McConnell for it on Truth Social:
“Kelly Tshibaka is doing very well in Alaska, probably leading horrendously bad Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican (barely!),” Trump wrote. “The Democrat has no chance, and yet the Old Broken Crow, Mitchell McConnell, is authorizing $9 Million Dollars to be spent in order to beat a great Republican, Kelly, instead of $9 Million Dollars that could be used for Blake Masters, and other Republicans, that with this money would beat their Democrat opponent. Isn’t it ironic?”
Murkowski is the consummate political survivor who has drifted left for years until she found her political true north with the Alaska Democrats. The unspoken alliance is not a secret in Alaska. In fact, the Murkowski-Democrat confederation is so baked into Alaska politics that, north of Latitude 55, it needs no explanation.
This week, the Murkowski-Democrat submarine surfaced: A flyer from the Sixteen Thirty Fund advises voters to pick both Murkowski for the Senate and newly elected Democrat Congresswoman Mary Peltola for the House.
In Alaska, that’s a lot of campaign money, and the dark money is the only income that Bristol Bay Action has, making it one-and-the-same as Sixteen Thirty Fund.
Pairing Murkowski and Peltola gives Murkowski the seal of approval from Democrats or their surrogates, and paints Peltola with a tint of moderation for the swing voters who make up the Alaska majority and don’t pay attention until the last two weeks before an election.
Thus, it’s now Democrats (and their surrogates) and McConnell backing Murkowski.
Polling shows this to be a tight race – much tighter than is comfortable for Murkowski. Three polls – AARP, Fox News, and Cygnal — all show the voters of Alaska split practically down the middle, with the advantage moving in Tshibaka’s direction. FiveThirtyEight.com has modeling that shows Tshibaka winning 53 times out of every 100 simulations.
Only Alaska Survey Research has Murkowski winning by 13 points, showing how the new ranked choice voting system works in Murkowski’s favor, just as it was designed to do by her surrogates.
McConnell’s proxy war with Trump in Alaska is an ego battle that could cost Republicans the Senate. If Murkowski wins on Nov. 8, but the Senate Leadership Fund loses Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, that’s going to be on McConnell, not on Trump.
Suzanne Downing is editor and publisher of Must Read Alaska.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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