Murkowski holds cash on hand edge over rival Tshibaka

JUNEAU — Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski ended the year with more than six times the cash on hand as her chief Republican rival, Kelly Tshibaka, filings with the Federal Election Commission show.

Murkowski, who made official in November plans to seek reelection, reported bringing in nearly $1.4 million during the last quarter and ending 2021 with about $4.3 million available.

Tshibaka, who announced her plans to run last March, reported bringing in nearly $602,000 in the last quarter and ending that period with about $634,000 on hand.

Tshibaka, who formerly led the state Department of Administration, has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. She has announced plans for a Feb. 10 fundraiser with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. Tshibaka also has been endorsed by Alaska Republican party leaders.

“Having the strong backing of President Trump is incredibly important for Kelly Tshibaka’s campaign and is key to having the resources needed to defeat Lisa Murkowski,” Tim Murtaugh, an adviser to Tshibaka’s campaign, said in an email.

Murkowski was one of seven Republican senators who voted last year to convict Trump at his impeachment trial. He was acquitted of a charge of incitement of insurrection, related to the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Elections in Alaska this year will be held under a new system, narrowly approved by voters in 2020. There will be no party primaries; instead, there will be one ballot featuring all candidates. The top four vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the general election, in which ranked choice voting will be used.

Eleven candidates have made official their plans to run with the state Division of Elections. Tshibaka has yet to do so. The list does not include any Democrats. The last day to file with the division as a candidate for the August primary is June 1.

The FEC shows one other candidate, Libertarian Sean Thorne, has reported raising funds. Thorne reported bringing in about $1,800 during the last quarter and ending 2021 with just over $670 on hand.