Trump endorses Murkowski primary opponent Kelly Tshibaka

Tshibaka is first endorsement from Trump of challenger to sitting GOP senator

Former President Donald Trump endorsed the primary opponent to Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Friday, declaring his support for Kelly Tshibaka Alaska's former commissioner of administration. 

"Lisa Murkowski is bad for Alaska. Her vote to confirm Biden’s Interior Secretary was a vote to kill long sought for, and approved, ANWR, and Alaska jobs," Trump said in a statement. "Murkowski has got to go! Kelly Tshibaka is the candidate who can beat Murkowski—and she will. Kelly is a fighter who stands for Alaska values and America First.  She is MAGA all the way, pro-energy, strong on the Border, tough on Crime and totally supports our Military and our great Vets."

Former Alaska Commissioner of Administration Kelly Tshibaka announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate earlier this year. (Photo: Tshibaka campaign) (Tshibaka campaign)

Murkowski, R-Alaska, is one of the senators who voted to convict Trump of inciting an insurrection in his impeachment trial over his alleged role in stoking the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

Trump has said that he plans to get involved in 2022 GOP primary races, but his endorsement of Tshibaka is his first official endorsement of a primary challenger to an incumbent Republican senator. He's only endorsed one primary challenger to a sitting House member, former aide Max Miller, who is challenging Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio. 

Tshibaka announced her campaign in March, attacking Murkowski as a "D.C. insider" and framing herself as a pro-Trump candidate


"To have his strong endorsement is great news for our campaign and even better news for the people of Alaska, because it means we will be getting our Senate seat back from Lisa Murkowski," Tshibaka said in a statement Friday on the former president's endorsement. 

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speaks during the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee business meeting to vote on sending the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., to be Interior Secretary, to the Senate floor in Washington on Thursday, March 4, 2021. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

"President Trump won Alaska by double digits twice because his leadership and policies made him the best president our state has ever known," she continued. Tshibaka also attacked Murkowski for opposing "Trump in both 2016 and 2020, proving definitively that she has no idea what Alaskans need or want."

A representative for Murkowski did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News. 


But Murkowski has defended her vote in favor of convicting Trump on his impeachment charge. She said in March, about a censure resolution from her state party: "They can make that statement. But I will make the statement, again, that my obligation is to support the Constitution that I have pledged to uphold, and I will do that, even if it means that I have to oppose the direction of my state party."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.