Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, questions Attorney General Merrick Garland as he testifies before the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Committee on April 26. She was declared the winner on Wednesday in her Senate race. File Photo by Greg Nash/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Alaska political veteran Lisa Murkowski won re-election to her U.S. Senate seat on Wednesday through the state's ranked choice system, beating back a challenge from Donald Trump-supported Kelly Tshibaka.
Murkowski, who earned Trump's ire as a moderate Republican who voted to impeach him, won 43% of the first-choice votes counted after the Nov. 8 election -- a slim 2,000 ahead of the right-wing Tshibaka. Democrat Pat Chesbro won 10% and Republican Buzz Kelley captured 3%.
When the ranked choice votes were tabulated on Wednesday, Murkowski's lead increased to 53.7%, with two-thirds of Chesbro's voters picking Murkowski as their second choice.
Murkowski's centrist positions have made her a much sought-after swing vote in the Senate, allowing her significant latitude on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and the Appropriations Committee, which controls government funding.
Murkowski, who's been in the Senate since 2002, voted in Jan. 2021 to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, along with all Democrats and independents and Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Trump endorsed Tshibaka after she left Alaska's Commissioner of Administration to run. He had held a fundraiser for her as well. In July, the Alaska Republican State Central Committee jumped on board to formally endorsed Tshibaka over Murkowski.
Murkowski is the daughter of Frank Murkowski, a former Alaska governor and U.S. senator.