Tshibaka, Murkowski Advance to Final Round of Ranked-Choice Tabulation in Alaska

Tshibaka, Murkowski Advance to Final Round of Ranked-Choice Tabulation in Alaska
U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka (L) speaks alongside forme President Donald Trump during a "Save America" rally campaigning in support of republican candidates in Anchorage, Alaska, on July 9, 2022. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
Jeff Louderback

Ten days after Election Day, Alaska voters know that the U.S. Senate seat up for grabs in their state will remain in Republican hands, yet it remains unclear whether that person will be incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski or challenger Kelly Tshibaka.

With 95 percent of the ballots counted, Tshibaka held a slim lead with 104,898 votes (43.28 percent) compared to 104,470 (43.11 percent) for Murkowski, according to the Associated Press.

Since neither candidate reached the 50 percent threshold needed for a victory, Tshibaka and Murkowski will advance to the final round of a ranked-choice tabulation, it was announced on Nov. 18.

In 2020, Alaska voters narrowly approved a ballot measure that sent the top four finishers in nonpartisan primaries to ranked-choice general elections in which voters rank their top four candidates, regardless of party affiliation.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) speaks to reporters in Washington on May 18, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) speaks to reporters in Washington on May 18, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

If nobody reaches 50 percent of the vote in the first round, voters’ second, third and fourth options are counted until a candidate gets to 50 percent.

The first person who receives a majority of the vote wins.

Democrat Patricia Chesbro, who is currently in third with 24,377 votes (10.06 percent), will be removed from the ballot if Tshibaka or Murkowski do not reach the 50 percent threshold.

Republican Buzz Kelley also advanced from the August primary. He dropped out of the race in September and backed Tshibaka, but he still appeared on the ballot and received votes.

Ranked-choice voting results will be tabulated on Nov. 23 once all eligible ballots are reviewed and counted, according to the State of Alaska Division of Elections.

Murkowski, who is vying for her fourth full term, drew the ire of former President Donald Trump when she was one of seven Senate Republicans who voted to impeach him for the Jan. 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol. She also voted against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and was one of three Republicans who chose to confirm Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in April 2022.

Trump, who won Alaska by 10 percentage points in the 2020 presidential election, endorsed Tshibaka, the former director of Alaska’s Department of Administration.

The Senate Leadership Fund, which is aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), spent more than $5 million in Alaska supporting Murkowski and attacking Tshibaka.

When the ranked-choice tabulation takes place, Tshibaka is expected to get votes from Kelley supporters since he dropped out of the race and supported her. Most of Chesbro’s backers are expected to rank Murkowski ahead of Tshibaka since Murkowski’s strategy is to embrace moderates.

Jeff Louderback covers news and features on the White House and executive agencies for The Epoch Times. He also reports on Senate and House elections. A professional journalist since 1990, Jeff has a versatile background that includes covering news and politics, business, professional and college sports, and lifestyle topics for regional and national media outlets.
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